Joe Tex - I Gotcha
The Electrifying Joe Tex!
Oh dear.... It is Friday, and it is also creeping up on the first big holiday weekend of the summer, but I sit here, feeling burnt (and I don’t even drink). It’s not work. If anything this has been an average week. Not too much insanity. I was sick, but I am feeling better. I dunno... I’m sure as the day goes on, and 4:30 gets closer, and I realize that I can drag my ass out of bed tomorrow whenever the hell I feel like it, the attractiveness of the vista before me will improve exponentially. I’m sitting here listening to a compilation of Syl Johnson’s Twinight recordings and realizing that he’s just another fantastic singer that I need to dig a little harder. Sure, I have a couple of his 45s, but I never realized how powerful some of the records he recorded in Chicago were. One of the songs I’ve really been digging this past year is Jamaican singer Ken Boothe’s fantastic cover of Johnson’s magnum opus ‘Is It Because I’m Black’. Where Johnson’s original is a soulful as it gets (and oft covered elsewhere) Boothe’s reading, over a hypnotic reggae beat really takes things to an entirely different level. I have to admit, that while I have long loved ska, rock steady and reggae, I have few originals in my crates, largely because the world of Jamaican vinyl is as confusing as it gets, and really ought to be left to dedicated aficionados. Though I am occasionally driven to track down (and pay for) originals (mostly Hammond stuff like the Federalmen and Winston Wright), I know where my bread and butter lies, and wisely stick to what I know. Fortunately there is a ton (probably a few tons) of great, inexpensive reissues of Jamaican music - notably the Trojan “boxes”; each thematically presented (i.e. Mod Reggae, Sixties, Dub etc) with three cardboard sleeved CDs per box, generally clocking it and under $20 per set. I have several of these and recommend them highly. You should also seek out the comp ‘Darker Then Blue: Soul From Jamdown 1973-1980’, which features the aforementioned Ken Boothe track as well as many other high quality numbers (especially Tinga Stewart’s amazing cover of Timmy Thomas’s ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’). And now, we approach and unexpected bend in the stream of consciousness (not unexpected to me, but it is after all my stream...). Today’s selection will likely be familiar to you if you were either listening to the radio in 1972, or are currently own a TV. I fall into both categories. It was only a few months ago when a commercial came on TV, for the latest and greatest bastardization of Dr. Pepper (long one of my favorite sodas – when I was still drinking soda). It was some kind of insane, tutti-frutti black cherry cream soda mixture, but the product in question is irrelevant, because what got my attention was the music they were using to sell the stuff. There, pouring from my TV speakers was a very familiar, undeniably funky song. I knew the song, but I couldn’t remember who it was or where I’d heard it. So I cast my net into the interweb, and in a few short minutes my memory was refreshed and I was looking for yet another record. The song in question is Joe Tex’s 1972 smash (R&B #1, Pop #2) ‘I Gotcha’. Whether or not the use of this fine funky song was some kind of insider tribute to the fact that both Joe Tex and Dr. Pepper both hailed from Texas, I can’t be sure. However, there is no denying that ‘I Gotcha’ is the kind of song that is guaranteed to grab you by the ears (if not by the butt). It’s got Joe’s wild vocals, a supremely funky beats and some very tasty breakdowns (with drums that sound like they inspired the breaks on the Soul Searcher’s much sampled ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’).
I mean, honestly, when you hear the man go,
Hold it a long time, HOLD IT!
Turn it a-loose!
A little bit longer now!
HOLD IT! HOLD IT! HOLD IT!
...even if you're suspicious about what exactly it is he wants you to hold, you have to dig it.
If’n you aren’t hep to Joe Tex, it’s not your fault. Despite having waxed a very hot stack of vinyl in his tragically short 49 years on the sphere, he remains tragically under-listened-to. As I said last week about Solomon Burke, Tex is one of those guys that ought to be up there with the Reddings and the Picketts of the world, but is mostly the property of old-schoolers and soul fanatics. He had a long string of R&B (and occasionally Pop) hits between 1960 and 1977 (almost all for the Dial label), laying down several classics like ‘Show Me’, ‘Skinny Legs and All’, today’s selection and his last big hit ‘Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)’. I remember seeing him on some awards show (probably the Grammys) performing that last number, flanked (appropriately) by two ample honeys. I didn’t know much of anything about Joe Tex at the time, but my 15 year old self had to respect the game. I said that I went looking for the record, and was able to score a nice clean copy of the LP for three whole dollars. Given the size of the hit, I suspect you wouldn’t have too much trouble grabbing your own copy of the LP or the 45 at a similarly bargain-basement price. If you wish to get an overview of his many successes, there is also a budget reissue that covers most of his best sides, from the early 60’s all the way to the end.NOTE: I'll be taking Monday off for the holiday. Enjoy your weekend and I'll see you on Wednesday.