I heard this LP reissue recently while attending the New York Audio Show. There was lots of buzz, not only about the quality of the sound (which is exceptional) but also about this little known Louisiana Swamp Rock artist. Tony Joe White is still active at 69, singing dates in blues clubs all over the US and Europe. A tour to Australia and New Zealand is in the works.
After some initial success as a singer, White made much of his living writing songs for others. All the songs on Homemade Ice Cream are White originals. ‘Original’, being the optimal word.
To my uneducated ears, at least where ‘Louisiana Swamp Rock’ is concerned, the songs sound bluesy in a square, Texas honky tonk way, with some Cajun spice. See, original!
From the fantastic opening groove of ‘Saturday Nite, In Oak Grove, Louisiana’ to soul searching ballads like ‘For Ol’ Times Sake’ and ‘Ol’ Mother Earth’, Homemade Ice Cream will sustain your interest with great melodies and superb playing. And, all are sung with charisma and sensitivity featuring White’s husky baritone voice. His backing musicians — Reggie Young on guitar, David Briggs, Piano and Organ, Norbert Putnam on bass and Kenny Malone, drums — are all Memphis or Nashville session regulars.
So, musically, this LP (also available on CD and download at iTunes) is a winner. If you like soundtracks of ‘The American Experience’, you’ll love this album. Yet, the album should not work as a musical whole, but it does so, spectacularly.
The great Richard Stilgoe tells us that a song has to be a perfect 50/50 balance between quality/appropriate lyrics and music. Think Lennon/McCartney ‘She was just seventeen, and you know what I mean’ or Beethoven/Schiller ‘Ode to Joy’ for perfect examples. White’s lyrics are simple. And, a little bit country. ‘California, I want to feel your warm sunshine’ to ‘he just had a raggedy old tent’. But, he’s no country bumpkin. White’s heart and soul win the day. So, when he sings ‘to have somebody hurt me for no reason, for no cause, for no cause’ you’ll forgive him.
Audiophiles, this is a must have LP. The sound is completely natural with no studio artifacts. What stands out, though, are the timbral qualities of the instruments and White’s great voice. Organ, piano and bass are there for harmonic effect, but the sounds of the drums and guitars are some of the best I’ve heard from my system.
Originally recorded in 1973, this reissue LP jumped to the top of my short list for Audiophilia’s Star Recordings of the Year, 2013.
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Tony Joe White - Homemade Ice Cream
Product No: AAPP 2708
200 Gram Vinyl Record