Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Joe Tex

  • The Best of Joe Tex [Atlantic, 1967]
  • Buying a Book [Atlantic, 1969] C-
  • I Gotcha [Dial, 1972] B-
  • Bumps and Bruises [Epic, 1977] B+
  • Rub Down [Epic, 1978] B-
  • I Believe I'm Gonna Make It: The Best of Joe Tex [Rhino, 1988]
  • The Very Best of Joe Tex [Rhino, 1996] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Best of Joe Tex [Atlantic, 1967]
[CG70s: A Basic Record Library]

Buying a Book [Atlantic, 1969]
Tex has been surviving on his rep for too long. This contains no surprises, except that the humor and the bedroom philosophy are getting very tiresome. C-

I Gotcha [Dial, 1972]
Joe's rhythms have gotten a lot trickier since the days of "Show Me" and "Skinny Legs," which is probably the real reason the title tune was such a smash--the story line isn't up to his vintage stuff even if Joe was moved to restate it for a finale. Granted, I did turn up the treble to find out what he was asking her to do in "You Said a Bad Word" (still don't know). But beyond that there's only--talk about common touch--"Bad Feet," which has nothing to do, narratively, with getting on the good one. B-

Bumps and Bruises [Epic, 1977]
Tex is a novelty artist whose subject is morality, so that in one song a little old lady brains a mugger with a can of sauerkraut, in another Tex advocates tolerance for "sissies," and in a third he sings a humorous chorus about having his hands cut off--all over some very punchy dance tracks by James Brown out of Stax-Volt. Amazingly rich and spirited for a comeback album off a freak hit. B+

Rub Down [Epic, 1978]
Because the jokes and grooves are mostly baldies and retreads, there's an obvious alternative title: Let Down. But that's only in comparison to Bumps and Bruises, the fruit of a layoff long enough to give this glorious bullshit artist the chance to think up some really good cons. B-

I Believe I'm Gonna Make It: The Best of Joe Tex [Rhino, 1988]
[CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]

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

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