A Fool to Care
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Joe Barry might not have invented the strand of Louisiana music that is known as swamp pop, but his huge hit I'm A Fool To Care did a great deal to establish the sound across America and the world more than 50 years ago. It was his only big chart hit, but by no means his only good record, as this new all-encompassing 2CD set demonstrates from beginning to end. I'm A Fool To Care embraces every recording that Joe made for maverick producer Huey Meaux during the 1960s including a handful of previously undocumented titles plus all of the tracks from his Meaux-produced comeback album of the mid-70s. It's the first Joe Barry compilation to source its contents exclusively from fresh new transfers of the original master tapes stored in the Meaux tape vaults, and the first to present its contents in stereo, where stereo masters exist. It's about as definitive a compilation as you'll find on any artist, anywhere and includes only those tracks that have been positively identified as being by Joe Barry. A wealth of label shots and a lengthy essay that features material from a largely unpublished 1979 interview with Joe will make this a must for all collectors of vintage Texas and Louisiana R&B from its halcyon era.
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Another, whose national fame was brief, was Joe Barry (born Joseph Barrios in Cut-Off, Louisiana on July 13, 1939) who first recorded in 1960 for Floyd Soileau's tiny Jin Records, first launched in 1958 in Ville Platte, Louisiana. His initial release, Greatest Moment Of My Life/Heartbroken Love on Jin 132 did not make any noise outside the immediate area, but when the follow-up cover of a Les Paul & Mary Ford 1954 hit, I'm A Fool To Care on Jin 144, began generating significant regional interest with his uncanny resemblance to Fats Domino, it was picked up on a lease arrangement by Mercury's Smash subsidiary and began a climb to a May-June peak of # 15 R&B/# 24 Billboard Pop Hot 100 b/w I Got A Feeling on Smash 1702.
The next release, Teardrops In My Heart, a 1947 C&W hit for The Sons Of The Pioneers, also caused a regional stir on Juin 152 and it too was grabbed by Smash, but the best it could do was a # 63 Hot 100 b/w For You, Sunshine on Smash 1710. They also picked up his fourth Jin single, You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry (first a 1950 C&W hit for Ernest Tubb, then a Pop hit for Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1956 and, two years after Joe's effort, a # 3 for The Caravelles), but despite Joe's great rendition, it never made the national charts b/w Till The End Of The World (Jin 157 - Smash 17127).
Smash maintained an interest in Joe into 1962, by which time he was recording for Princess Records, but none among Little Papoose/Why Did You Say Goodbye? (Princess 4005 - Smash 1745), and Just Because/Little Jewel Of The Veaux Carre (Princess 4010 - Smash 1762) could get him back on the national charts. All the sides mentioned are in this 2-CD set from Ace of London, with their usual quality sound reproduction from original tapes (except the two 1963 Sho-Biz releases for which only vinyl was available) and copious liner notes based upon a late 1970s interview with John Broven, and their usual pictures of 45-rpm records, vintage photos and posters as only Ace can do them. Full details on the other tracks, including those under the name Roosevelt Jones and the 12 he painstakingly cut in the mid-1970s when his health was deteriorating, are included in the notes.
Joe Barry passed away at age 65 in Cut-Off on August 31, 2004.