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Country - Released September 21, 2018 | Capitol Records Nashville

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
More than eight and a half hours of music! Bobby Gentry absolutely deserves such a generous celebration, even though her glory years only really lasted about a decade. Retiring in the early 1980s into total anonymity, this great voice of the 1960s and 1970s is presented here in a deluxe selection. Across 8 records, 177 tracks are brought together: her six studio albums for Capitol (Ode to Billie Joe from 1967, The Delta Sweete and Local Gentry from 1968, Touch ‘Em With Love from 1969, Fancy from 1970 and  Patchwork from 1971), the record she made with Glen Campbell in 1968 and over 70 unreleased tracks including alternative takes, demos, BBC live recordings and all kinds of rarities! Hidden behind the mystery of her premature retirement and the cult following which has only grown with time remain these songs. Bobbie Gentry was more than just a simple country, folk and pop singer like so many others of her generation. Only Bobby could’ve written hits like Mornin' Glory, Fancy, Okolona River Bottom Band, Chickasaw County Child and most famous of all, covered the world over, Ode to Billie Joe, the fascinating story of the suicide of the mysterious Billie Joe McAllister who leapt from Tallahatchie Bridge. In France, Joe Dassin would go on to put a French spin on the song: Billie Joe became Marie-Jeanne and the Tallahatchie Bridge became the bridge over the Garonne…There is class, freedom and striking sensuality in Bobbie Gentry's voice. There are also brilliant arrangements and an instrumentation that line up perfectly with the songs, from slightly kitschy lounge strings (but they're so cool) to a simple guitar that clings to the contours of her voice. Bobbie Gentry was never fully country, fully pop, fully soul or fully folk. She was Bobbie Gentry. Full stop. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

Country - Released August 21, 1967 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Gentry's debut LP, which went to number one on the pop charts, was a promising but not wholly satisfying disc, with the singer penning all but one of the songs. Inevitably, the title track dwarfed everything else by comparison, but a greater problem was that several of the other tunes recycled variations of the "Ode to Billie Joe" riff. On the other hand, "Mississippi Delta" is gloriously tough, throaty swamp rock; few other women pop singers have sounded as raw. Other good cuts were "I Saw an Angel Die," an effective mating of Gentry's country-blues guitar riffs and low-key orchestration, and the jazz waltz-timed "Papa, Woncha Let Me Go to Town With You." Her vocals are poised and husky throughout the record, on which she was definitely on the right track -- one that she was quickly diverted from, into more MOR-oriented sounds. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo

Country - Released March 1, 1968 | Capitol Records

Delta Sweete was Bobbie Gentry's 1968 follow-up to her hugely popular Ode to Billie Joe record -- the title track topped the pop charts and made the country Top 20. Although it doesn't quite match the quality of Ode, Delta Sweete does contain a good selection of Gentry originals and some fine covers. The "Sweete" in the title refers to both Gentry's southern-belle good looks (her publishing company was called Super Darlin') and the album's suite structure. The 12 segued songs detail Gentry's idyllic Mississippi childhood and include portraits of home and church life ("Reunion," "Sermon"), as well as recollections of blues and country hits she certainly heard as a youngster ("Big Boss Man," "Tobacco Road"). In fact, the prevailing sound on both Delta Sweete and Ode to Billy Joe is a swampy, folk-tinged combination of blues and country, with uptown touches like strings and horns seemingly added to reflect the then modern styles of soul and the Nashville sound. Gentry also includes some dreamy, pastoral originals like "Morning Glory" and "Courtyard," songs that could've been written by melancholy folkster Nick Drake. In light of all the album's good qualities, then, it's a shame it's out of print. Collectables' The Golden Classics of Bobbie Gentry combines the Ode to Billie Joe album with a few tracks from Delta Sweete, including the hits "Okolona River Bottom Band" and "Louisiana Man." © Stephen Cook /TiVo

Country - Released January 1, 2005 | EMI Gold


Country - Released October 1, 1968 | Capitol Records

Local Gentry is an exquisitely wrought collection of character studies steeped in the myth and lore of Southern culture -- from the funeral parlor director portrayed in "Casket Vignette" to the titular "Ace Insurance Man," Bobbie Gentry etches a series of revealing, well-observed narratives populated by folks both larger-than-life and small-time, adding up to something not unlike a country-pop Spoon River Anthology. A subtle, primarily acoustic effort, the record's sound and sensibility are steeped in Gentry's Mississippi upbringing, but despite the music's warmth and humanity, the effect is neither nostalgic nor saccharine -- instead, Gentry wistfully and wryly evokes a colorful rural culture populated by soldiers, widows, and traveling medicine shows. The five original compositions here rank among her most literate and personal, while covers like the Beatles' "Fool on the Hill" and "Eleanor Rigby" add to the roll call of misfits, eccentrics, and beautiful losers. Like all of Gentry's efforts, it's ripe for reissue. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo

Country - Released May 1, 1970 | Capitol Records

Fancy is a wild ride through all the contradictions that are Bobbie Gentry. After her breakthrough smash, "Ode to Billy Joe," with its haunted guitar figure and cipher meaning, the Mississippi singer/songwriter became the embodiment of backwoods in the eyes of the American public. But on Fancy, Gentry told the truth of what she aspired to. The title track is a "Billie Joe"-type story with a similar guitar figure; it also has a host of West Coast horns telling an unapologetic rags-to-riches story without regrets that mirrors Gentry's own. But it only begins here. From here, Gentry, assisted or perhaps directed by producer Rick Hall, cuts a pair of Bacharach/David numbers ("Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), James Taylor's "Something in the Way He (sic) Moves," Leon Russell's "Delta Man" (sic), Nilsson's "Rainmaker," Rudy Clark's "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody," Laura Nyro's "Wedding Bell Blues," and a few others with full strings, horns, orchestras, and glockenspiels for accompaniment -- along with a honky tonk piano, drum kit, and electric bass. What it makes for is even more of a mystery than "Ode to Billie Joe." Gentry's voice, with its smoke-tinged husky contralto, is ill-suited to this material. But that in itself is what makes this such a fascinating listen. None of it works, yet as a result, it's kind of a shambolic masterpiece. Not for the weak, but a compelling experience if you can make it through. © Thom Jurek /TiVo

Country - Released August 1, 1969 | Capitol Records

Touch 'Em With Love is Bobbie Gentry's finest studio effort, a fascinatingly eclectic and genuinely affecting record that broadened her musical horizons far beyond the limitations of the Nashville sound. Its unexpectedly gritty, soulful production makes it something of a spiritual twin to Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis, also released in 1969 (both even feature renditions of "Son of a Preacher Man"): Gentry's husky, sensual delivery proves as ideally suited for the Southern-fried funk of the opening title track as it does for the bluegrass-flavored "Natural to Be Gone," deftly moving from genre to genre to encompass everything from faux-gospel ("Glory Hallelujah, How They'll Sing") to lushly orchestrated pop ("I Wouldn't Be Surprised," the disc's centerpiece). Even more eye-opening is that Gentry's originals stand tall alongside material from composers including Burt Bacharach ("I'll Never Fall in Love Again," which earned her a chart-topping single in the U.K.) and Jimmy Webb ("Where's the Playground, Johnny") -- her folky "Seasons Come, Seasons Go," an acute tale of lost love, offers Touch 'Em With Love's most profoundly beautiful moment. A truly great and tragically under-recognized album. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo

Country - Released January 1, 2007 | Capitol Records

At two discs -- one devoted to original compositions, one to covers -- Zonophone's 2007 collection The Best of Bobbie Gentry: The Capitol Years (its subtitle is unintentionally amusing, as Gentry only recorded for Capitol) is the most comprehensive Bobbie Gentry set yet released, which isn't the same thing as the best. Not that this compilation is bad -- far from it, actually, since it does have all her hits and the great majority of her best tracks, plus a handful of rarities to lure in diehards. The problem is, it's too exhaustive to act as an introduction, especially with three terrific single-disc sets on the market (EMI's 2000 Ode to Bobbie Gentry, Raven's 2002 An American Quilt, Shout! Factory's 2004 Chickasaw County Child: The Artistry of Bobbie Gentry), and if you're already part of Gentry's cult, you'd be better served by getting Raven's pair of two-fers of original albums. That said, anybody who picks up this Best of Bobbie Gentry will hear plenty of wonderful music, so it's hardly a bad purchase; it's just that there are better options out there. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Country - Released January 1, 1968 | Capitol Records

Bobbie Gentry would soon become a regular guest on Glen Campbell's genial television variety show, where her pantsuited, beehived country-pop bombshell image belied her delicate, sweet voice and smart, blues-tinged songwriting. Sadly, the latter is under-represented here, as only her minor "Mornin' Glory" makes the cut (compared to two of Campbell's own songs and a sweet but slight duet remake of his signature song, John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind"), but Gentry's special vocal blend with Campbell -- the pair's voices harmonize utterly delightfully -- is the real highlight of this set. The song selection is pop-oriented, featuring surprising cover choices like Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" and, even better, a winning version of Margo Guryan's "Sunday Morning" that's surprisingly well-suited to Kelly Gordon and Al DeLory's countrypolitan production. However, Bob Russell's "Little Green Apples" is smarmy mush no matter who records it. This album is well worth seeking out for fans of both singers. © Stewart Mason /TiVo

Country - Released May 1, 1971 | EMI Catalogue

While Patchwork is not Bobbie Gentry at the peak of her powers, it's nonetheless mysterious that this would be her last album, although a few singles did follow in the 1970s. For the singer/songwriter obviously seemed to have much left to give, composing or co-composing all dozen tracks as well as producing the record herself. Like many another long-playing record in the late '60s and early '70s, it's given a quasi-concept aura via the device of half-minute "interludes" that link seven of the tracks. There doesn't seem to be a definite thematic concept at work here, however, other than quite a few of the songs being character sketches -- not that this was anything new for Gentry. It's not among her more rootsy records, however, and is arguably too slick and heavy on the orchestration from the production end. Sometimes it sounds kind of like Nancy Sinatra might have had that star begun writing material under the influence of her producer, Lee Hazlewood. Sometimes it sounds a little closer to the kind of jaunty, slyly tongue-in-cheek observational style of singer/songwriters like Harry Nilsson or Randy Newman than it does to Bobbie Gentry. At its most middle of the road, it seems like there might be some Jimmy Webb worming its way into her approach as well; "Somebody Like Me" even sounds a bit like the Fifth Dimension. None of these songs really rank among her very best (or certainly her earthiest), and it's more something to be enjoyed by committed fans than recommended as the first or second stop for someone who wants more than a best-of collection. Still, some of the charms particular to Gentry -- her husky voice, and her fusion of country, folk, and pop -- remain in force, the most serious and intimate portraits ("Beverly," "Belinda," "Lookin' In," and "Marigolds and Tangerines") being the most impressive. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo

Country - Released October 8, 1990 | Curb Records


Country - Released February 5, 1968 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)