Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Joe Tex: The Very Best of Joe Tex [Rhino, 1996]
I recently asked two young musos who Joe Tex was. The Irish guy didn't have a clue, but the African American did--"Bang a Gong," right? Sheesh. Before and after he became a Black Muslim minister, this East Texas moralist-jokester mixed such timeless trifles as "Skinny Legs and All" (God, don't you even remember that one?) and "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)" (a lucky last gasp occasioning a luckier album that came out for "sissies") with a good-humored country wisdom that rivaled Smokey's urban variant for pith and empathy. Nashville pro Buddy Killen oversaw the Muscle Shoals funk, but the music's economy and amiability grew out of Tex's character and talent. So "Hold What You've Got," people. Remember that "The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)." And don't neglect the p.i. benchmark in which a Vietnam-era GI Joe hears from his sweetheart: "And your letter brought me so much strength/(Tell you what I did, baby, huh, you won't believe it)/I raised up and got me two more enemies." A