A true icon of swamp rock, Tony Joe White parlayed his songwriting talent and idiosyncratic vocals into a modestly successful country and rock career in Europe as well as America. Born July 23, 1943, in Goodwill, Louisiana, White was born into a part-Cherokee family. He began working clubs in Texas during the mid-'60s and moved to Nashville by 1968.
The 'Live at the Basement' DVD, filmed in Sydney, Australia, features Tony Joe White performing nine of his greatest compositions including "Undercover Agent For The Blues", "Steamy Windows", "Rainy Night In Georgia" and "Polk Salad Annie". Bonus features include an interview with Tony Joe White and other additional material.
Tony Joe White's Hard to Handle album is built around a concert recording made in 1969 or 1970. It features White swaggering through a clutch of tough-as-rock blues and soul covers like Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go," Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle" and Jimmy Reed's "You Got Me Runnin'," as well as some originals. "I Want You" is a sludgy, nasty groover that has some truly scuzzy guitar solos and sounds like it could have come off a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion record, one of White's trademark swampy story songs "Roosevelt & Ira Lee (Night of the Moccasin)," and "When You Touch Me," a slight and uninteresting jam. Too bad the whole concert sounds like it was recorded through a wall of steel wool. The vocals are muffled at times; the sound cuts in and out and generally sounds no better than a hastily made bootleg. A couple of the songs ("I Want You" in particular) show White to be a dynamic performer with a lot more guts than one might imagine.
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.
You'll recognise the wonderful Steamy Windows (covered by good friend Tina Turner with TJW backing her) but the awesome opening track Tunica Motel which tells of Tony Joe's return to his blues roots sets the stage for the whole album. Tunica Motel has it all - strong hooks and TJW's strong songwriting which starts as a song about getting away from it all, and becomes, gradually, a gut-spilling account. "I'm so tired of fighting with myself…" confesses TJW. Later, when he's contemplating his musical direction, he "sees the ghost of Robert Johnson" and for me the line brings an involunatary tingle down my spine every time I hear it, which is often. Tony Joe is Back! In this album he reintroduces us to his warm Stratocaster blues in gorgeous tracks: Ain't Going Down This Time and You're Gonna Look in Blues. In some ways these marked a new sound that he'd develop on subsequent albums - moving us closer to his use of Spanish guitar.
His second album released In 1969 originally on the Monument Label. Produced by the acclaimed Billy Swan. Includes his original version of 'Rainy Night In Georgia', a huge hit for Brook Benton & covered by many including Hank Williams Jr., Shelby Lynne & Randy Crawford.
Black and White was the first album released by Tony Joe White. It contained the single "Polk Salad Annie" which was a staple of Elvis Presley's live sets in the 1970s. It was recorded at RCA Victor Studios, Nashville and produced by Billy Swan. "Polk Salad Annie"'s lyrics describe the lifestyle of a generic Southern girl. Traditionally, the term to describe the type of food highlighted in the song is "poke salad." Its 1968 single release peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Tony Joe White's self-titled third album, Tony Joe White, finds the self-proclaimed swamp fox tempering his bluesy swamp rockers with a handful of introspective, soul-dripping ballads and introducing horn and string arrangements for the first time. The album – White's 1971 debut for Warner Bros. – was recorded over a two-week period in December 1970, in two different Memphis studios (one was Ardent Studios, where Big Star later recorded their influential power pop albums). His producer was none other than London-born Peter Asher, who had just produced James Taylor's early hits for the label (he would continue to produce hits for Taylor and Linda Ronstadt on his way to becoming one of the most successful producers of the '70s). One can surmise that Warner Bros. may have put White and Asher together as a way for the producer to work his magic with an artist who had much promise.