Tony Joe WHITE – Deep Cuts 2008

Tony Joe WHITE – Deep Cuts 2008

Blues

There’s no way to say the following delicately: Tony Joe White has a lot of soul for a white guy. Deep Cuts (released June 10 by R.E.D. Distribution) fuses a dark breed of funk and blues, his voice channeling a rougher Leonard Cohen and a gentler, more relaxed Isaac Hayes. Cutting his teeth in the ’70s opening for CCR and in the ’90s opening for Clapton, White has formulated his own amalgam of blues-infused funk. White calls his brand of music swampy blues. The description makes sense with the music’s buzzing guitars and thick porridge of a rhythm section. White’s compositions seem to wail on and on, ever stirring the dark funk mass accrued.

White made Deep Cuts with his son Jody, showcasing his classic songs in an updated format with both digital and live percussion. He also added strings and organ to his signature guitar sound. “As the Crow Flies,” one of the highlights of the disc, follows a loose, winding groove. The constant cowbell blends into the stew of percussion, hypnotizing the listener into a deep neck-nodding spell. When listening to this particular track, anyone who was at one time un-hip or awkward becomes suddenly cool, calm and collected. No one can be dorky while listening to this groove. The bassline and flow of the piece is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child,” with even White’s vocals sounding at times Hendrix-esque. The track fades into “Willie and Laura Mae Jones,” another brooding selection that continues the hypnosis.

“Soul Francisco” sounds like it could be the backing track to a Busta Rhymes rap, with Tony Joe White taking role of grandfather. Instead, White moans and whispers along with the minor-key chord progression, utilizing some of the grittiest guitar work possible. He takes on a sinister Barry White persona with the soul of a hard-living old man and the sexiness of a low baritone. Throughout his mumbles and groans, White never stops churning the swampy groove.
By Sarah Moore.
**
Deep Cuts is Tony Joe White’s 21st album, and after 40 some years of delivering a delightfully skewed, greasy, swamp-soaked Louisiana pop view to the world, it’s amazing that more people don’t know about this guy. Oh, he’s well known and respected in some quarters, and his hit “Polk Salad Annie” from 1969 bubbles up from time to time on the oldies stations, but White has pretty much spent his whole career flying just beneath the commercial radar. It would be nice to say that this album, which updates White’s sound with beats and loops provided by his son Jody White, will change all that, but the truth is, it won’t. White’s baritone voice, while still effective in spots, is a ragged, hoarse shell of its former self and nothing included in this set is going to bring the world to his doorstep. Not that there isn’t a lot to like about Deep Cuts — White’s funky, biting guitar work is all over it, and that’s a good thing, particularly on the deep swell groove of “Swamp Water,” which sounds thick enough to swim in forever. At the other end of the spectrum, “Homemade Ice Cream” is a joyous, summer-filled harmonica work out that seems as fresh and welcome as wind-dried laundry. White revisits two of his older songs, too, “Willie and Laura Mae Jones” from 1969’s Black and White and “High Sheriff (Of Calhoun Parrish)” from 1970’s Tony Joe, but unfortunately neither particularly benefits from a new approach, and Deep Cuts ends up being somehow less than it might have been because of it. But it’s nice to hear that gritty, vital guitar tone of White’s again. The world could never possibly get enough of that.
By Steve Leggett, All Music Guide.
**
Top notch release from a swamp rock original. A modern touch added to a few of his classics. Similar to but not quite as over-the-top as the studio craft exhibited on RL Burnside’s last releases on Fat Possum. “Purists” like to whine & bitch. But what’s the problem with a deserving artist making some money by molding his music perhaps to attract a younger listener brought up in a ProTools world, especially when the music doesn’t lose it’s essential groove or identity? If you don’t like it, listen to the old records
and shut up.
By Rico.
**
Revered as one of the originators of swamp rock, Tony Joe White has recast a number of his classic songs on Deep Cuts, proving that time has no jurisdiction over funky. His signature groove, starting from his 1969 hit “Polk Salad Annie,” is what he uses to paint a vivid picture of the world he experienced growing up, where poverty provided unity between otherwise divided races and bad-news women were sometimes too good to pass up. Tony Joe cut the tracks with his son Jody providing a rich palette of beats and loops, utilizing both digital and live drums, strings, organs, and the unmistakable timbre of his guitar. White’s time-worn baritone is positively haunting, like a restless spirit conjured by the funk that was always the core of his music. As a collective work, Deep Cuts portrays the complications of living on the cusp of impending danger, be it an encounter with a brutal country sheriff or a poisonous snake through the eyes of a master songwriter who has seen and lived all of it. Deep Cuts not only updates a cache of classic songs for a contemporary audience, it reframes them, revisiting his timeless imagery in a new, modern context. With Deep Cuts,Tony Joe reveals that there is still plenty to be gleaned from his irresistible, timeless groove.
**
Tony Joe White- Guitar, Vocals
David Henry- Cello
Peter Hyrka- Violin
Ollie Marland- Piano
Tyson Rogers- Piano, Keyboards
Earle Simmons- Bass
Paul Slivka- Bass
Jeff Hale- Drums
Paul Griffith- Drums
**
01. Set The Hook 2:10
02. As The Crow Flies 6:15
03. Willie and Laura Mae Jones 6:56
04. Soul Francisco 6:50
05. Run With The Bulls 2:54
06. High Sheriff Of Calhoun Parrish 6:08
07. Aspen, Colorado 5:36
08. Homemade Ice Cream 5:43
09. Swamp Water 2:42
10. Roosevelt and Ira Lee 6:28
**


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