12 Songs, 43 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In the tradition of great Southern novelists, backwoodsman Tony Joe White, who was born in Louisiana and raised on a cotton farm, could spin a yarn as familiar as any campfire conversation among friends. There’s undeniable regional authenticity to White’s work, both sonically (blues, gospel, rock 'n' roll, R&B) and narratively (the swamp characters in his songs are all based on people he knew). Hence, the singer/songwriter never really fit in with the country music biz. Recorded in both Nashville and Memphis and produced by Billy Swan (of “I Can Help” fame), this 1969 album (White's second) was part of his two-year stint on the Monument label. Like his first album, the spare organ, guitar, drums, bass, and string arrangements here let White’s hypnotic and dusty talk-croon vocals pull the listener in. Then the stories themselves take hold. Among many greats, you get the brooding swamp-goth classic “Rainy Night in Georgia” (covered by myriad folks and huge for Brooke Benton), a poignant confessional to his wife (“Le Ann”), a hard driver that would’ve done John Fogerty proud (“Elements and Things”), and a funky, horn-boosted masterpiece (“Woodpecker”).

EDITORS’ NOTES

In the tradition of great Southern novelists, backwoodsman Tony Joe White, who was born in Louisiana and raised on a cotton farm, could spin a yarn as familiar as any campfire conversation among friends. There’s undeniable regional authenticity to White’s work, both sonically (blues, gospel, rock 'n' roll, R&B) and narratively (the swamp characters in his songs are all based on people he knew). Hence, the singer/songwriter never really fit in with the country music biz. Recorded in both Nashville and Memphis and produced by Billy Swan (of “I Can Help” fame), this 1969 album (White's second) was part of his two-year stint on the Monument label. Like his first album, the spare organ, guitar, drums, bass, and string arrangements here let White’s hypnotic and dusty talk-croon vocals pull the listener in. Then the stories themselves take hold. Among many greats, you get the brooding swamp-goth classic “Rainy Night in Georgia” (covered by myriad folks and huge for Brooke Benton), a poignant confessional to his wife (“Le Ann”), a hard driver that would’ve done John Fogerty proud (“Elements and Things”), and a funky, horn-boosted masterpiece (“Woodpecker”).

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