Tony Joe White

Black and White

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When "Polk Salad Annie" blared from transistor radio speakers in the summer of 1969, the first thought was of Creedence Clearwater Revival, for Tony Joe White's swamp rock bore more than a passing resemblance to the sound John Fogerty whipped up on Bayou Country and Green River. But White was the real thing -- he really was from the bayou country of Louisiana, while Fogerty's bayou country was conjured up in Berkeley, CA. Plus, White had a mellow baritone voice that sounded like it had been dredged up from the bottom of the Delta. Besides "Annie," side one of this album includes several other White originals. The best of these are "Willie and Laura Mae Jones," a song about race relations with an arrangement similar to "Ballad of Billie Joe," and "Soul Francisco," a short piece of funky fluff that had been a big hit in Europe in 1968. "Aspen, Colorado" presages the later "Rainy Night in Georgia," a White composition popularized by Brook Benton. The second side consists of covers of contemporary hits, with the funky "Who's Making Love" and "Scratch My Back" faring better than the slow stuff. Dusty Springfield had a minor hit with "Willie and Laura Mae Jones," and White's songs were recorded by other performers through the years, but "Polk Salad Annie" and the gators that got her granny provided his only march in the American hit parade.

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