Tony Joe White


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Three years after leaving Warner Bros., Tony Joe White returned with Eyes, released on 20th Century. His record label wasn't the only thing that changed. Abandoning the idiosyncratic, bluesy country-rock that made his name, White turned to smooth disco, creating a late-night seduction record closer to Boz Scaggs than Tony Joe White, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, since White's voice suits the stylish groove well and it's appealing on the surface. This is an album made for romance. Six of the 10 songs have some conjugation of "love" in the title, and if that wasn't clear enough, there was the swinging cover photo, finding Tony Joe in a wide-open, wide-collared shirt, chatting up a lovely blond woman. If that belabors his point a little much by not offering much subtlety, it does at least deliver a swank seduction sound that is thoroughly late '70s, sounding more tied to its time than White's music usually does. That might be why many White fans don't dig this album -- it's such a smooth affair that when he returns to the swamp, as on "Texas Woman," it's disarming -- but it's enjoyable for what it is.

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