Tony Joe White
Yep Roc Records
Tony Joe White may forever be embedded in our minds for his smash hit single “Polk Salad Annie,” but his final release just may be one of his finest ever. Bad Mouthin’ is an exploration into his past and a taste of the music that inspired him early off. Known for his swampy rock tunes, White digs deep into the blues and covers a number of his heroes while pairing them with five original tracks of his own.
Two of the original numbers White presents are not new by any means. In fact, they are two of the very first songs of his that he ever recorded, “Bad Mouthin’” and “Sundown Blues.” First cut onto tape back in 1964 in a small Texas studio near the Mexican border, they have been turned into slow acoustic blues gems, like all of the numbers on the disc. And they fit in nicely with songs from Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Awful Dreams”), John Lee Hooker (“Boom Boom”), Jimmy Reed (“Big Boss Man”), Charley Patton (“Down The Dirt Road Blues”) and Joe Williams (“Baby Please Don’t Go”).
This is very deep blues, often boding in darkness where you can feel the pain that looms inside. The cover of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” has never come across in such a bluesy manner and just tugs on the edge of being a dirge. Bare-boned often just White on guitar and harp, other times with drummer Bryan Owings and bassist Steve Forrest, it certainly shows White as a remarkable bluesman and may be one of his finest moments on record ever. Too bad it came out just shortly before his untimely death.
Total Time: 50:06
Bad Mouthin’ / Baby, Please Don’t Go / Cool Town Woman / Boom Boom / Big Boss Man / Sundown Blues / Rich Woman Blues / Bad Dreams / Awful Dreams / Down The Dirt Road Blues / Stockholm Blues / Heartbreak Hotel