Joe Tex

Singles A's & B's, Vol. 1: 1964-1966

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The Shout! label's three-volume series compiling the A-sides and B-sides of 1964-1972 Joe Tex singles is worthwhile for any Tex fan, or indeed any serious soul fan. Which one you like the most will depend on what phase of Tex's prime floats your boat the highest, but you could certainly make an argument for the first volume being the best of the three. The 22 tracks include a bunch of mid-'60s hits that established him as a soul star -- "Hold What You've Got," "You Got What It Takes," "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," "I Want To (Do Everything for You)," "A Sweet Woman Like You," and "The Love You Save," for starters. In fact, a good dozen of these were medium to huge R&B hits, sometimes entering the pop Top 40 as well. But there are also numerous B-sides, most (like the A-sides) written by Tex, that were generally in the same league as the top sides, even if they didn't always boast the same kind of hit hooks. The 11 singles together add up to a pretty versatile compilation, showing a performer skilled at serious emotional ballads, playful funky upbeat tunes, bluesy Southern soul with a hint of country, and even arrangements skillfully incorporating folky guitars ("Don't Let Your Left Hand Know"). Some of the cuts are clearly foundations of the more funky sounds soul would turn toward in the late '60s, even if they're more conventional, song-oriented, and lyric-oriented than James Brown's workouts.

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