JOE TEX: Get Way Back (Label: Ace)

JOE TEX: Get Way Back

Joseph Arrington Jr. was born in Rogers, Texas in 1933. Twenty two years later and with a name change that paid homage to his birth state, Joe Tex won the famed Apollo Talent Show and the farm boy could easily be excused for thinking that fame and fortune were about to come knocking. Sadly it took another ten years for Tex to hit musical pay dirt with the Dial/Atlantic record ‘Hold On To What You Got’; in between, though, young Joe sure had tried. He’d recorded diligently and prolifically for King, Ace, Anna, Checker and Jalynne – though, without any real success. This new Tex CD collects together 27 of his best cuts for King and Ace and it’s easy to hear why he had difficulty in reaping the rewards which the Apollo success promised. Though there’s nothing wrong with the music Tex crafted here in the late 50s, the Texan had yet to find the unique style that brought him his considerable Atlantic success. The music here is real, late fifties R&B with hints of rock and roll and blues thrown in. Much, though, is derivative, bearing testament to the music biz adage that if a sound is successful then a copy of that sound should bear fruit too. So on cuts like ‘Open The Door’ and ‘Yum Yum Yum’ Tex does a remarkable Little Richard impression, while on ‘Charlie Brown Got Expelled’ and ‘Grannie Stole The Show’ the clear influence is the Coasters. Elsewhere you’ll hear flavours of Ray Charles, Fats Domino and any other of that era’s hit makers. On one cut, ‘Pneumonia’, he not only copies the vocal style of Little Willie John, he also knicks the tune and the lyrical conceit of John’s ‘Fever’. Strangely, we’re told, Tex claimed that not only did he write ‘Pneumonia’ but also ‘Fever’ – though he was never officially credited for it. The story – fact or fiction – is a realistic snapshot of the murky side of the entertainment biz in the 50s while the music offers an authentic sound bite of the time. What’s also clear is that behind Tex’s energetic vocal impressions there was a real soul star waiting to come out. Hear that potential to best effect on ‘Davy, You Upset My Home’. Here Tex is his own man as he tells, with what was to become his trademark humour, how the Davy Crocket craze was destroying his romance‚Ķ an excellent cut on a great archival collectors’ set.
(BB) 3/5

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