WFMU Ichiban, Rock and Soul with Debbie D

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Joe Tex Month Day 28: The Disco Years

After coming out of retirement in 1975, Joe had a string of singles on Dial, but it wasn't until 1978, when  he jumped labels one final time, to make his final comeback, the always suprising Bumps and Bruises. The sound is pure late 70s soul, but the songs and themes are vintage JT. While it may not look it, this is probably the best record JT recorded post-Happy Soul. The album was a hit, largely because of its lead track, "Ain't Gonna Bump No More with No Big Fat Woman", the other side of the coin of "Skinny Legs and All". Could Joe find no middle ground in his choice of dance partners?

The rest of the album is filled with similar songs sending up the 70s - Tex style. The songs are back to being wonderfully specific instead of the more generic moments on parts of I Gotcha & Spills the Beans. Several songs are credited to songwriter Benny Lee McGinty, who gets several co-writing credits with Tex on his next two albums. 

"Jump Bad" in particular is a classic piece of 70s jive storytelling - it's the tale of Run Down the hustler getting royally whooped upside the head by a grandma who doesn't take kindly to him accosting her in front of the check cashing place. Tex is a comedic virtuoso here, playing Run Down, the Grandma, and the narrator. 

"We Held On" is a classic Tex soul country number, with a similar melody to "Games People Play", and it should have been a hit. There's also songs where Joe decides to have an operation to remove his hands and one where one of his buddies dances with a "sissy" while preaches tolerance. Side one never stops giving it up. One major problem - there's only one rap on the whole record, a spoken intro on "There's Something Wrong", but it's not by Joe! Who the heck dares to "rap" on a Joe Tex record but JT?

His second Epic record was Rub Down. Early collaborator James Booker was on the session, and the title track has Joe admitting that he can't dance as good as his old rival James Brown. So the roots are in place, and there are a couple of fine raps, particularly on the freaky slow jam version of "I Gotcha".  The songs, however, aren't quite up to snuff overall, and this one fulls into the category of FOR COMPLETISTS ONLY.

JT fittingly returned to Dial for his final LP. More on that tomorrow - the FINAL DAY of Joe Tex Month. Tune in for one more mind boggling piece of wisdom.

28 Rounds and Still Swinging!

Ed. note: "I Mess Up Everything I Get My Hands On", "Leaving You Dinner" (mp3s)  Also from Bumps & Bruises.