Two Joe Tex albums from 1969 are combined onto this single-disc reissue, with the addition of both sides of a 1968 single. Happy Soul, the earlier of the pair, is one of many extremely super-loose soul concept albums of the 1960s, the inference here being that this is upbeat, good-natured, humorous soul. Actually it doesn't sound much different from Tex's usual late-'60s output, but it is short on the churchy deep soul ballads that usually occupied a large part of his repertoire and heavy on the happy, sometimes almost slightly zany songs. It's good soul-funk-pop, naturally short on songs that are as good as the greatest hits, but with some real good 'uns, like the ebullient rap-dance tune "Chicken Crazy," "You Need Me Baby" (with Tex dissing a hometown boy-done-good as not good enough for the woman he wants), and the frenetic "Go Home and Do It." The ballads aren't entirely neglected, either, particularly on the slow and sweet "You Can Tell" and the inspirational "Keep the One You Got." Buying a Book isn't as upbeat, but maintains a similar level of respectable-to-high quality, and has a more balanced assortment of the gospel-influenced stompers ("We Can't Sit Down Now"), novelty humor ("It Ain't Sanitary"), slow organ-graced ballads with spoken monologues ("That's the Way," "Buying a Book"), and dance funk with hot guitar/brass/organ interplay ("Get Your Lies Together"). Tex, incidentally, wrote all of the songs on both albums, a somewhat unusual feat for soul stars of the time. The bonus tracks, both sides of the 1968 single "Betwixt and Between"/"Chocolate Cherry," are actually instrumentals by Tex's band, both of them moody funk-soul tunes with a cinematic sweep to the horns.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger