Recorded in 1980, this "live at Austin City Limits" performance by Tony Joe White is one of the wildest and rawest they ever taped. Many artists choose to beef up their bands for the program. White played with his touring group: drummer Jeff Hale and bassist Steve Spear. White is infamous for bucking trends of all kinds and he comes out of the gate snarling with "Mama Don't Let Your Cowboys Grow Up to Be Babies," funking it up with wiry thumb-picked fills and dirty-ass chords. He goes into "Disco Blues," the same way, grabbing Slim Harpo's "Hip Shake" riff as his fuel, and slips into a funky version of the riff from "Polk Salad Annie" in the chorus. (Oh yeah, he plays the hell out of the song itself later in the set.) But White digs deep into his utterly fantastic catalog here as well; in fact, other than a version of the Donnie Fritts/Eddie Hinton classic "300 Pounds of Hongry" (written for him) all the tunes on this slab are by him. And while hearing live versions of his classics done wild and raw is awesome, hearing Tony Joe White play the hell out of his guitar in a without-a-net-setting is a rare thing. He doesn't need to show off, it's all at the service of his greasy, gritty, deeply soulful swamp funk tunes. His read of his classic "Rainy Night in Georgia" is the rare ballad here, and no one sings it the way he does. "Willie and Laura Mae Jones" is here, as is a Delta blues-drenched "Lustful Earle and the Married Woman," done on an acoustic. And the "Swamp Rap" is pure, deep-south funk. The anthem "I Came Here to Party," takes off on the Waylon Jennings' outlaw country two-step riff and moves it into overdrive. Live from Austin, TX closes with the minor key blues rocker "I Get Off on It," making the entire proceeding a must-have for White fans.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek