By 1968, JT was at the peak of his popularity. He was one of the most popular live soul entertainers going (witness the numerous pictures from Greg G's trolling of the Jet archives of Joe getting mauled by fans) and he had a long string of winning R&B singles.
And while the two albums he released these years continue to follow the Tex/Killen formula, they also have a deeper soul sound. Having the same sort of crossover appeal that typifies the earlier Dial releases does not seem to be a priority. Part of me wonders if this is because around the time Happy Soul was released in 1968, Tex secretly converted to the Muslim religion. He'd eventually change his name to Yusuf Hazziez and quit show biz completely for a few years, but more on that when we talk about I Gotcha.
Regardless, they're both really good records with lots of great tracks.
Side one of Happy Soul in particular stands up with any LP side of soul music you'd care to name. A bunch of the tracks from this record have been posted elsewhere on Ichiban through the course of the month, but a couple haven't been covered yet. I'm a big fan of the home-town hi-jinx of "You Need Me", which has an almost Tom T. Hall vibe to it in terms of its telling little details. "Some were crying, and some bought lunch!"
And my DJ box is always packing the freight train of laffs that is "Go Home and Do It", because of one glorious occasion when I played it, much to the crowd's delight, right after some jerky couple finally got kicked out of one of my gigs for being obnoxious.
Buying a Book has another great autobiographical song about Joe's early Texas childhood, "Grandma Mary" and the civil rights anthem "We Can't Sit Down Now". And of course there's the title track.
Now, can someone actually explain to me what the phrase "buying a book" actually means? I haven't been to figure that out for 20 years.