Joe Tex

The Complete Dial Recordings, Vol. 3: Live and Lively/Soul Country

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This two-fer combines two Joe Tex albums from 1968, Live and Lively and Soul Country, onto one CD with the addition of three bonus tracks from 1967-1968 singles. Neither album is excellent, but each contains some excellent material, as well as some good-to-mediocre stuff. Live and Lively is the better of the pair, although its execution is a little misbegotten, jumbling studio tracks with, well, studio tracks, except ones that have some canned applause and crowd noise dubbed onto them. The fake live dubs aren't obtrusive enough to be truly annoying, though, and generally the material is strong. The hits "Show Me," "Papa Was Too," and "Skinny Legs and All" are here, the first two sans live noise. But for those who already own a Tex greatest-hits compilation, the more interesting attractions might be a good cover of "Do Right Woman," the funky Tex originals "Wooden Spoon" and "You're Gonna Thank Me Woman," and Tex's deep soul ballad "Don't Give Up." Soul Country is, indeed, wholly devoted to covers of country songs, a concept that in Tex's hands sometimes works well, and sometimes doesn't. There's just one original on that album, "I'll Never Do You Wrong," a ballad that actually doesn't sound especially more country than many other good Tex compositions. Otherwise it's all covers, from "At the Dark End of the Street" (is that really a country song?) and Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away" to Roger Miller's "Engine, Engine No. 9." Most of these are good or at least OK, but it falters the closer it gets to country-pop, particularly when the album limps to a close with "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Honey." The bonus tracks are the 1967 singles "A Woman's Hands" and "I'll Make Everyday Christmas (For My Woman)," both of them slow churchy ballads, plus the dynamic, partying 1968 A-side "Men Are Getting Scarce."

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