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Country - Released December 20, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects

Rock - Released December 20, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
When "Polk Salad Annie" blared from transistor radio speakers in the summer of 1969, the first thought was of Creedence Clearwater Revival, for Tony Joe White's swamp rock bore more than a passing resemblance to the sound John Fogerty whipped up on Bayou Country and Green River. But White was the real thing -- he really was from the bayou country of Louisiana, while Fogerty's bayou country was conjured up in Berkeley, CA. Plus, White had a mellow baritone voice that sounded like it had been dredged up from the bottom of the Delta. Besides "Annie," side one of this album includes several other White originals. The best of these are "Willie and Laura Mae Jones," a song about race relations with an arrangement similar to "Ballad of Billie Joe," and "Soul Francisco," a short piece of funky fluff that had been a big hit in Europe in 1968. "Aspen, Colorado" presages the later "Rainy Night in Georgia," a White composition popularized by Brook Benton. The second side consists of covers of contemporary hits, with the funky "Who's Making Love" and "Scratch My Back" faring better than the slow stuff. Dusty Springfield had a minor hit with "Willie and Laura Mae Jones," and White's songs were recorded by other performers through the years, but "Polk Salad Annie" and the gators that got her granny provided his only march in the American hit parade. © Jim Newsom /TiVo

Country - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Tony Joe White's self-titled third album, Tony Joe White, finds the self-proclaimed swamp fox tempering his bluesy swamp rockers with a handful of introspective, soul-dripping ballads and introducing horn and string arrangements for the first time. The album -- White's 1971 debut for Warner Bros. -- was recorded over a two-week period in December 1970, in two different Memphis studios (one was Ardent Studios, where Big Star later recorded their influential power pop albums). His producer was none other than London-born Peter Asher, who had just produced James Taylor's early hits for the label (he would continue to produce hits for Taylor and Linda Ronstadt on his way to becoming one of the most successful producers of the '70s). One can surmise that Warner Bros. may have put White and Asher together as a way for the producer to work his magic with an artist who had much promise. White had already scored big with 1969's "Polk Salad Annie" for Monument, and he was having success as a songwriter too: "Rainy Night in Georgia" was a huge hit for Brook Benton in 1970. As you might expect, there aren't really too many surprises here, despite the addition of the Memphis Horns and other Muscle Shoals sessioners. The songs are fairly standard and straightforward, nothing too out of place or experimental, and White's husky southern warble remains the album's key focus. Many of the songs will remind the listener just how turbulent the cultural climate of the late '60s and early '70s was in the U.S. White's soulful southern-tinged spoken drawl introduces "The Change" (as in a "change is gonna come"), then a potent theme and oft-spoke clarion call that, indeed, the times they were a changin'. "Black Panther Swamps" and "I Just Walked Away" (the album's first single) are also successful at what they attempt. Meanwhile, over on the more sentimental side, "The Daddy" concerns itself with the generation gap between father and son, and mentions the son cutting his long hair ("a little respect will never hurt you"). The mawkish "Five Summers for Jimmy" will appeal to fans who liked Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey." On a more positive note, "A Night in the Life of a Swamp Fox" was White's somewhat-frustrating look at what was going on in his life, playing his sole hit for fans but wanting something more out of his career. Unfortunately, this album never did bring him the success he craved, although it deserves another listen. In 2002, Tony Joe White was reissued for the first time in the U.S. on CD by the Sepia Tone label. © Bryan Thomas /TiVo

Blues - Released January 31, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records


Country - Released May 21, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Records

This overstuffed box not only includes all three of Tony Joe White's initial albums for Monument, but adds dozens of extra songs and outtakes, most of which have never been heard before, and includes a fourth disc of previously unreleased live and studio tracks. It's a cornucopia of material, nearly all of it worth hearing, but due to its near obsessive vault clearing, the hefty list price, and its limited-edition status (only 5000 were pressed), it is clearly geared to the obsessive White enthusiast. Even though the singer/songwriter/guitarist was signed to Monument in 1966 (both sides of his rare debut single appear as extras on this set's version of Black and White), his first album was not recorded until 1969. By that time White had pretty much nailed the distinctive and ultimately trademark swamp sound that he mined for the rest of his career. The musky yet melodic songs, evocative lyrics and mid-tempo rhythms married to White's baritone voice reveled in his scrappy Louisiana roots. His first disc kicks off with "Willie and Laura Mae Jones," a steaming slice of the backwoods pop that, like most of his finest work, effortlessly combined blues, country and folk. While others had worked similar territory previously, in particular Bobbie Gentry (her "Ode to Billy Joe" was a major inspiration for White), he infused a rock and R&B sensibility that drove the music with gritty authenticity and his "whomper stomper" wah-wah pedal. Most impressive is the amount of material recorded during the period 1969-1971, the three years covered here. Of these 64 studio tracks and outtakes, all but approximately 20 are originals and most are well worth hearing. Billy Swan remained White's producer throughout these albums, and even though some critics find his strings and horns to be unnecessary embellishments, the sweetening seldom overwhelms the music. White rather reluctantly agrees in his interview available in the informative 36-page book that brings additional value to this compilation. The fourth disc features his entire seven-song performance at 1970s Isle of Wight concert. White is joined by Jeff Beck's drummer Cozy Powell, who he had first met earlier that day, and the duo burn through a sizzling set highlighted by a six-minute version of his biggest hit, "Polk Salad Annie." The compilers also unearth a previously unreleased, solo, ten track studio session recorded in Paris in March of 1969 where White covers Gentry's "Mississippi Delta" along with Bob Dylan, Don Covay and Joe Tex, along with a few originals. Not quite essential, it's still more than worthwhile and fans will enjoy experiencing White in his most stripped down format. It's a fitting coda for a long overdue and neatly packaged appreciation of Tony Joe White's significant influence on American roots music. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo

Country - Released April 14, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

Twenty tracks from 1969-1973, the period of Tony Joe White's greatest success, including "Polk Salad Annie" and White's own version of his composition "Rainy Night in Georgia." Most of this is quality swamp rock with pop-soul-conscious production; on cuts like "High Sheriff of Calhoun Parrish," it sounds very much like he was trying to achieve a groove in the mold of Bobbie Joe Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe." Sometimes he gets real down-home in a stomping backwoods blues style that makes him sound a little like a White counterpart to John Lee Hooker, as on "Stockholm Blues." If there's any criticism to be levied against this music, it's in its occasional lack of variety, White mining staple swamp rock boogie riffs for all they're worth. However, few, if any, performers and writers were as skilled as White in doing so, and he has a fine knack for sharp storytelling lyrics. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo

Blues - Released November 23, 2018 | Sanctuary Records

Tony Joe White, aka the Swamp Fox, has been on a roll these past few years, issuing album after self-released album of quality original material full of deep, dark, blues-flavored Florida vintage roots music.Heroines is no exception, but it is a record with a twist. First, it's on the Sanctuary label. Secondly, five of the record's 12 tracks are recorded with female vocalists in duet. They include the great Jessi Colter, Shelby Lynne, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and Michelle White. The set opens with "Gabriella," a brief, jazzy flamenco-kissed instrumental, played on a pair of acoustic guitars. "Can't Go Back Home" stars Lynne. A true laid-back Tony Joe nocturnal swamp blues, it nonetheless carries within it that slightly menacing tension. Lynne's voice, which is well known for its power, showcases its other side here, one that is expressive, soulful and sensual even on slow burn. White's vocal whispers its edgy truth, underscored by his signature guitar sound. "Closing in the Fire," with Williams, is a steamy, R&B growler with horns. The riff is a mid-tempo take-off from her own "Hot Blood," and this tune feels as if it is an update of hers. "Playa del Carmen Night," with its Spanish folk overtones, is a duet between White and his daughter Michelle. It's a whispering love ballad, one that shimmers with acoustic guitars and hand percussion. Michelle White, a fine country and blues singer in her own right, brings the notion of memory inherent in the song's body full-force to the front line. It's bittersweet and beautiful. "Wild Wolf Calling Me" features Harris in fine voice at her country gospel best. White's baritone snakes around her plaintive wail and moan and brings a hint of the foreboding eternal to her testament. Colter is a country music legend, and this track's the evidence as to why. Her subdued, deeply expressive, reedy croon goes up against the fuzzed-up blues guitars, while White's ominous baritone adds depth, and an otherworldly dimension, to his song. The rest of the cuts here, with White taking the vocals on his own, are fine as well. They simmer, just below the boiling point, touching on everything from backwoods life, love, politics, and spirituality, to the chaos in a country where firearms do more talking than at any time since the Old West, as in "Chaos Boogie." Tony Joe's writing is flawless, his guitar playing is phenomenal; he gets more creative, funky expression from his minimal, fluid approach than many players who use a lot more notes. Heroines is another winner in the Swamp Fox catalog that once more proves not only is he a vital artist 35 years after his first big hit, but one whose consistency is remarkable and unsullied. ~ Thom Jurek

Country - Released November 20, 2007 | Rhino - Warner Records


Country - Released December 27, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

Tony Joe White's second Warner Bros. album is an awesome, exquisite musical jewel and a departure from most of the attributes for which he is best known, from songs like "Polk Salad Annie." Acoustic textured for much of its length and built on a close, intimate sound overall, The Train I'm On is permeated with the dark side of White's usual swamp rock sound, filled with songs about unsettled loves and lives, and men caught amid insoluble situations. Betraying surprising vulnerability for much of its length, even on songs like "If I Ever Saw a Good Thing" and "300 Pounds of Hongry" (among the few full band numbers here, with a gorgeous sax solo by Charles Chalmers on the former), he shows off an emotional complexity that wasn't always obvious on his earlier work, only really cutting loose boldly on "Even Trolls Love Rock and Roll" and a tiny handful of other cuts. The rest is dark, pensive, soulful bluesy rock, highlighted by some bristling acoustic guitar work (check out "As the Crow Flies") and superb singing throughout ("The Migrant" is worth the price of admission by itself). [The album was reissued in 2002 by Sepia Tone with new annotation, in a beautifully remastered mid-price edition.] © Bruce Eder /TiVo

Country - Released December 20, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records


Rock - Released September 28, 2018 | Yep Roc Records

The pioneer of swamp pop will never ever leave his bayou. At 75 years old, Tony Joe White, known for his legendary Polk Salad Annie and Willie And Laura Mae Jones, goes back to his blues roots. Produced by his son Jody, Bad Mouthin’ celebrates the masters such as John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Charley Patton, or even The King, Elvis Presley. No make-up here, White’s hoarse and mysterious voice warmly wraps itself around this poetry from the swamps. With his famous harmonica riffs, he awakens the blues of Jimmy Reed (Big Boss Man) in its simplest form. Armed with his Stratocaster 65, he recorded the album in a barn outside of Nashville. Guaranteed intimacy and authenticity! Although he is accompanied by Brian Owings on the drums and Steve Forrest on the bass, most of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the Cherokee half-blood himself. The track Boom Boom gives us some slightly electric blues music seasoned with some murmured vocals. To close the album, White, alone with his guitar, breaks us in every way possible with Heartbreak Hotel. Tony Joe White excels in these breathless songs that sweat out the real, true blues music. © Clara Bismuth/Qobuz

Country - Released September 10, 1993 | Warner Records


Country - Released September 17, 2013 | Yep Roc Records

There's no mistaking Tony Joe White's signature swamp boogie. Patented in the late '60s, White has been working that same low-down blues grind ever since, taking a long sojourn from recording in the '80s before settling into a regular groove sometime around the time of the new millennium. Usually, these collections of new songs were on tiny labels -- including his aptly named Swamp imprint -- but 2013's Hoodoo appeared on Yep Roc and received an appropriately larger push than its recent predecessors. Apart from that publicity, not much has changed in White's world. He favors thick, laid-back Bayou blues heavy on atmosphere even when the production is bright and clean. He's there, supported by a lanky, languid rhythm section and colored by another guitar and organ or harmonica, sometimes working up a head of boogie but usually settling so far back into the groove it feels like they can't be rousted. Some dread creeps at the edges of Hoodoo -- it surfaces on "The Flood" and "Storm Comin'," references to the storm that washed away large portions of Nashville in 2010, also damaging White's own home -- but White's fondness for spontaneous takes dilutes these ominous undertones and, sometimes, his own groove. As appealing as the lived-in, swampy jams are, there's a laziness that drifts throughout Hoodoo, apparent in the sauntering rhythms and Tony Joe's mush-mouthed vocals. If he were issuing warnings, they'd be hard to hear through his grumble, and the band doesn't work for your attention -- they expect you to either be on board or not. And while they do their voodoo well on Hoodoo, that nonchalant attitude keeps the record from being compelling. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Rock - Released November 16, 2018 | Rhino - Warner Records

Existing only as rumors for decades, Tony Joe White’s 1971 live album That on the Road Look finally surfaced as a Rhino Handmade release in the summer of 2010. Specifics about this performance are not known -- they were unable to pinpoint where it was recorded, although White maintains it could have come from an opening spot for Creedence Clearwater Revival at Royal Albert Hall -- but details don’t quite matter in this case because the music is excellent: thick, sweaty swamp-rock that digs deep and jams long -- “Polk Salad Annie” runs 10 minutes -- but remains compelling as White works his funky grooves. Sometimes he does this with no more than an acoustic guitar -- there’s a stretch in the middle where he performs “Lustful Earl and the Married Woman” and “Willi and Laura Mae Jones” on his own -- but the record really cooks when he’s supported by his entire band, turning in hotter performances than he got in the studio. To be sure, this is something of a subtle difference -- the arrangements are no different and those studio recordings are pretty funky in their own right -- but for those that can’t get enough of Tony Joe White at his peak, this is necessary. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Country - Released May 27, 2016 | Yep Roc Records

Blues - Released September 30, 2016 | Westmill

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Blues - Released March 21, 2019 | Empire of Sound


Country - Released November 22, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records


Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | Hip-O (UC)

Tony Joe's first U.S. release since 1983 finds the swamp-rocker in rare form. Produced by Roger Davies -- Tina Turner's manager/producer, and the one responsible for her '80s breakthrough -- this is the most cohesive album he's made since his early Monument LPs with Billy Swan. Tony Joe is kept tightly focused with a small combo (Hammond organ, bass, drums), and the rest of the space in the mix is occupied by the star's funky guitar, harmonica, and breathy vocals, recorded so close he sounds like he's two inches from the listener's face. It also helps that Tony Joe's songwriting skills have only sharpened over the years; the disc is simply loaded with great songs, including "Crack the Window Baby," "Gumbo John," "I Want My Fleetwood Back," and the moody "Cold Fingers," "I Believe I've Lost My Way," and "Across From Midnight." One of his very best, and as highly recommended as they come. © Cub Koda /TiVo

Country - Released November 26, 2013 | Yep Roc Records


Tony Joe White in the magazine
  • Tony Joe White dies at 75
    Tony Joe White dies at 75 There are some artists that just completely embody a genre, Tony Joe White was one of them. The king of swamp rock sadly left us this Wednesday at the age of 75. White will be remembered for hits s...