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August 2002

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Joe Tex
Live And Lively / Soul Country
Happy Soul / Buying A Book

RPM Shout Records

Joe Tex These CDs make up the next two installments in the Joe Tex reissue series originally started by Connoisseur Collection and reviewed in the December 2001 issue of Blues Bytes. Apparently, Connoisseur Collection has gone out of business since those first two monumental releases, and the project and subsequent releases has been taken over by RPM Shout Records also of the U.K. 

We now have the fifth through the eighth albums released by Tex on the Atlantic label during the years of 1967-1969, and comprising a body of work just as vital and important in the history of soul music as the first two in this project.

Volume 3 has the classic Live And Lively album, along with a somewhat less classic Soul Country. Live And Lively contained three crossover hits: the sensational "Papa Was Too," which was an answer disc to the Otis Redding/Carla Thomas hit "Tramp," a tune that was also a hit for Lowell Fulson, the mega hit "Show Me" from March of 1967, and the top 10 Joe Tex signature tune "Skinny Legs And All," which closed the very successful year of 1967 for Tex. 

In addition to those hits there were great cover versions of "Do Right Woman," "Get Out Of My Life Woman," and a fine version of Lou Rawls' "Love Is A Hurting Thing," making Live And Lively one of the finest live albums of the 60s, rivaling James Brown's Live At The Apollo as perhaps the finest of this era. 

The sixth Tex album, Soul Country, entered an entirely different arena. At the time it was in vogue for soul artists to do pure country albums, as witnessed by the C&W albums by Bobby Womack, Millie Jackson, Joe Simon and Tina Turner, just to name a few. Tex tackled such country evergreens as "Ode To Billy Joe," "Green, Green, Grass Of Home," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" and the Bobby Goldsboro classic "Honey." You get the basic idea, not an album that will rise to the top of the Tex portfolio, but interesting to hear from an industry-driven historical perspective.

Volume four brings us two albums similar in concept and quite different than the country direction of his prior album. Happy Soul contains only two charted hits, "Keep The One You Got" and "You Need Me Baby," which hit # 13 and #29 on the Billboard R&B charts. 

The Buying A Book album contains the classic title song, which reached #10 on the charts and is considered one of Tex's finest performances. The album also had "That's The Way," which only made it to #46 and showed the declining hitmaking status Tex was experiencing. It wasn't until 1972 that Tex again hit it big with "I Gotcha" (not included here). 

These two albums do show Tex at his most humorous storytelling and make for wonderful listening.

Hopefully these releases will do well and the series will continue with his 1970s albums. Many thanks goes out to RPM for continuing this vital series and allowing old fans and new to enjoy this music once again.

--- Alan Shutro

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