Joe Tex: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — May 20, 2022

455) Joe Tex — “Anything You Wanna Know”

I featured my favorite Joe Tex song a long while ago (see #42). Here’s my second favorite, also off Tex’s ’69 album Buying a Book (see #42). RDTEN1 is spot on calling “Anything You Wanna Know” “[s]ide one’s funkiest performance . . . a surprisingly funny and on target number describing the inner workings of a small town’s black community” (https://www.funkmysoul.gr/joe-tex-1969-buying-a-book/). Soulmakossac says it’s full of Tex’s “unique blend of funky stompin’ music and folksy, humorist lyrics”, a “fat struttin’ . . . hilarious ode to the place where you can find out all you need to know: the bus depot!” (same) The one and only Dave Marsh calls the whole album “[f]unny, funky, and as deep as it wants to be.” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/buying-a-book-atlantic–mw0001958358)

Michael Jack Kirby gives a fabulous introduction to Joe Tex (Joseph Arrington, Jr.):

In 1965 . . . [he] had his first big hit, “Hold What You’ve Got.” Perseverance got him to that point as he’d been making records for almost ten years. [Joe Tex] . . . . had advice for everyone, especially when it came to romance and moral behavior. The long road to stardom got under way in 1955 when he made the journey from the Lone Star State to New York City’s Apollo Theater, taking control of the crowds and coming in first place on more than one “Amateur Night.” Syd Nathan, owner of King records, offered him a chance to record . . . . After several releases but no breakthrough hit, King cut him loose and he headed back to Texas, where he served as a minister . . . . Tex joined the Ace [Records] roster in 1958 and waxed several singles . . . but . . . none were hits. . . . He [did] perfect[] some mean dance moves, including an impressive microphone stand gimmick by letting the stand fall to the floor as he grabs it with his foot just in time, proceeding to kick it around while dancing and singing, never missing a beat of the song. Those kinds of stage moves . . . would later get him into a skirmish with a certain “Mr. Dynamite.” Joe had . . . a few singles for the Anna label . . . “Baby You’re Right,” was interpreted with minor changes by James Brown . . . and hit the pop charts, and R&B top ten . . . the first major hit with Joe’s name attached. Any good feelings Joe had towards James was short-lived, though, when the latter made claims that the former had copied his moves onstage. Joe’s reply was to make fun of JB’s cape-wearing “Please, Please, Please” routine at a concert, and when James began dating Joe’s ex-wife . . . the two cut ties permanently.

The break of a lifetime came when Joe met William “Buddy” Killen. . . . Buddy worked for Big Tree Publishing . . . . Tex and Killen clicked when they first met and a deal was struck . . . . Ten singles came out . . . between 1961 and 1964 . . . . with the same frustrating results [as before]. Joe was ready to call it quits and move on . . . [but] Killen convinced him to hang in there a little longer. [The ’64 single] “Hold What You’ve Got[]” . . . went top ten on the pop charts and number one R&B in January 1965. . . . The Tex-Killen team was a well-oiled machine in those hitmaking years of the mid-to-late 1960s and the two became very close friends. Buddy produced and Joe continued doing all the songwriting himself . . . . [H]e caught a hot groove in 1967 with “Show Me,” . . [and] “Skinny Legs and All[] . . was a smash hit beyond all expectations; top ten, a million seller and Grammy nominee to boot. . . .

https://www.waybackattack.com/texjoe.html

Dave Marsh adds that:

Joe Tex made the first Southern soul record that also hit on the pop charts . . . . His raspy-voiced, jackleg preacher style also laid some of the most important parts of rap’s foundation. He is, arguably, the most underrated of all the ’60s soul performers associated with Atlantic Records . . . . Tex made his mark by preaching over tough hard soul tracks, clowning at some points, swooping into a croon at others. He was perhaps the most rustic and back-country of the soul stars, a role he played to the hilt . . . . His biggest hit was “Skinny Legs and All,” from a 1967 live album, his rapping pure hokum over deeply funky riffs. “Skinny Legs” might have served as a template for all the raucous, ribald hip-hop hits of pop’s future.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/joe-tex-mn0000210323

“Well, a shooting last night at the Lincoln hotel, way to go. . . . It was the best barbeque fish and chips, tell me now. They say Cash’s barbeque will make you smack your lips, but it’s hot y’all. . . . You can find out anything you wanna know about anyone in town that you want to know at Ida May’s beauty shop and William’s barber shop. Or you can read it all on the restroom wall at the bus depot. Why do they fight all the time at the Streamline Club? Mr. Well’s putting something in them drinks at the club, must be. They said they’re doing the same thing at the Starlight Lounge, ain’t it a shame. [S]even drinks will knock a man down. . . . You can find out anything that you wanna know about anyone in town that you want to know at Ida May’s beauty shop and William’s barber shop. Or you can read it all on the restroom wall at the bus depot. . . .”

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