Friday, November 14, 2014

Dial T for Tex

Back to the Friday double headers.

I’ve always liked Joe Tex. His recording career started in 1955 and his early releases were on King, Ace, and Anna. In 1961 he moved to Buddy Killen’s Dial label which was his home for almost all of the ensuing two decades. Joe had so many singles released I continue to come across ones I hadn’t been aware of before. Also, the Dial label is one of those that didn’t change its design much over the years so when I do find a single that’s new to me I often struggle to place it in Joe’s career without referring to the Interweb. Today’s offering is a case in point.

It turns out this single was released in February 1970, a little bit later than I would have placed it. February 1970 was about 18 months before the music bug really got hold of me (around then I would have been obsessing over Chelsea – I still do that - and getting excited about their march towards Wembley and a memorable FA Cup Final victory over Leeds). I thought I would look up the charts to see what everybody was buying at the time this single was in the shops (and, mystifyingly, staying in the shops it would appear). I found the Billboard Hot 100 for 28/02/70 in a copy of the magazine on Google Books, and on the page next to the printed Hot 100 there was an advert for You’re Right, Ray Charles as one to watch!  

So what was in the charts then? There was a surprisingly strong tendency to the “middle of the road” I thought but perhaps, when you really analyse them, the charts, almost by definition, have been forever thus. There was less Rock music on the chart than I thought there would be, although I suppose by 1970 the album was more of a vehicle for Rock, and Glam had not yet emerged. Edison Lighthouse with Love Grows was doing well both sides of the pond and was #1 in the UK. That was just ahead of Lee Marvin’s Wand’rin’ Star – a single I still have from back then – although it must have been one of my parent’s purchases originally. Also in the UK charts were Kenny Rogers & The First Edition with Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town. I do remember liking that one at the time. A certain Australian who now, following recent developments, will now become air-brushed from entertainment history no doubt was doing well with Two Little Boys. And in the lower reaches of the Top 40 proof that the Northern Soul scene was significant well before it went overground later in the 70s: The Tams Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy and The Contours with the classic Just A Little Misunderstanding (I was aware of neither at the time). In the Billboard Hot 100 Simon & Garfunkel were at #1 with Bridge Over Troubled Water. Soul and R&B were very well represented in the top 20, making up 50% of the entries with the likes of Sly & the Family Stone, The Temptations, The Jackson Five, and The Delfonics. Soul and R&B made up close to 40% of the entire top 100 by my reckoning. I also noticed that just appearing in the lower reaches of the R&B charts was Al Green with his first release on Hi, You Say It. Now there is another record I had not previously known. Al’s, and Willie Mitchell’s, classic sound had yet to appear, Tired Of Being Alone – one of the first songs to sell me on Soul – was still over a year away. 

So, I have this Joe Tex single placed in time now.

Joe’s songs often tell stories and contain a rap (in the old sense of the word). This A side is one of them but it’s primarily one for the dancers and I’m surprised it isn’t better known. The B side is wonderful too, in its own quirky way, and a real bonus to my ears. As I say, it is quirky and has an unusual structure, and I think I even detect a bit of Pearl & Dean action going on too!    

Enjoy both, and the crackles!



charity chic said...

Joe Tex - he can do no wrong

george said...

I am a Scottish middle-aged man in his 50s I like Joe Tex.

Darcy said...

:) George

Murray said...

Ditto to george's comment. Discomonia is a favourite of mine, from 1979, but never seems to get mentioned.