JOE SOUTH – Introspect – (Capitol) – 1968

Joe South - Introspect

I have nattered on about Joe South on this blog in the past.

I said:

White southern soul has always tickled my fancy partially because it knows it can’t "out funk" it’s black counterpart but as recompense it can be, and normally is more, "experimental" and, it is also more open to cross fertilisation with other musical styles, especially country and folk.

The high point of the genre – and I know I am biased but it is the highpoint – is "From Elvis in Memphis" by Elvis, from 1969. Others who swam or stuck their toes in these waters include Tony Joe White, the great Bergen White and Bobbie Gentry all who have had their fair share of good tunes in the style.

Joe South was far more adventurous than any of these.

Joe South’s background is worth a read – see links below – the guy is either "out there" or just one of the dozens of crazed talented musicians the South seemed to churn out (he was born in Atlanta Georgia 1940).

Sadly, since I wrote that, Joe South has passed.

Joe South (February 28, 1940 – September 5, 2012)

There was little fanfare.

Strange.

His career dates back to the 50s (He hit #47 in 1958 with 1958 "The Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor).

He produced Billy Joe Royal and he played on Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools" (1967), Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" (1966) as well as on Tommy Roe, Eddy Arnold, Marty Robbins, Simon & Garfunkel  and Wilson Pickett albums.

He also won a Grammy (oh, not a Grammy) and had a couple of top 20 hits in the US.

His songs were recorded by Elvis Presley, Billy Joe Royal, The Osmonds, Deep Purple, Russell Morris, Kula Shaker, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Brook Benton, Bryan Ferry, Coldcut, Lynn Anderson, Freddy Weller, Jeannie C. Riley, Johnny Rivers, Penny DeHaven, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Carol Burnett, Andy Williams, Kitty Wells, Dottie West, Jim Nabors,  k. d. lang, Tams, King Curtis (featuring Duane Allman), The Georgia Satellites, Big Tom and The Mainliners, Dolly Parton, The Tremeloes, Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon, Ike & Tina Turner, Dreadzone, Ed Ames, Hank Williams Jr., YOYO, Inner Circle, DJ Bobo, Henning Kvitnes, Liverpool Express, Jools Holland (with guest vocalist Marc Almond), Linda Ronstadt and many others.

This album is his first.

It is amazing.

Popular music was, and had been, moving in different directions but South was writing and recording within the mainstream. His audience was different. For him to put out an album as eclectic, ambitious and (lyrically) perceptive as this was pretty “amazing”.

Allmusic sum up the album here: “Introspect anticipated the sound that Elvis Presley and Tony Joe White would both bring to the fore in the following year, except that it was even more ambitious than Presley or White, mixing and bending genres in new and exciting ways. Country, Eastern raga, gutbucket soul, and pop all brush up against each other within the same songs, some of which sound like Elvis singing with a backing band that included James Burton and Ravi Shankar. And thanks to South's use of various electronic devices in association with the considerable virtuosity in the playing, and his exceptional singing, this is still a bracing album four decades later”

I can’t say it any better though I will say The Box Tops and others had been barking up the white southern soul tree in 1967 whilst the eclectic sounds are a result of South being an electronics whiz.

What the quote doesn’t refer to is the depth of the writing. South was around 27 and he rants against the status quo but he refuses to accept the dictums of the youth culture also. He is, the man, caught between a rock and a hard place. This is a place where the thoughtful always get caught, perhaps.

Maybe he is a product of his time and place. He was a boy from the South not a west coast hippie. He grew up on country and southern rock music not college folk or jazz.

But he had eyes and could think.

The album is called “Introspect” after all.

This album is full of songs that rant against hate, hypocrisy and inhumanity. But the moral message isn’t on a placard. There are no “all we are saying is give peace a chance” slogans. The message is in the narratives, in the stories and in how the characters in his songs treat each other.

Importantly, he is the detached observer with anger and empathy but he also has self-insight.

The only down side (and it’s not a big problem) is the production is occasionally murky though that could be the mastering on my vinyl. That, though, may make it difficult for less persistent contemporary ears.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • All My Hard Times – I'm surprised Elvis never recorded this, it would have suited him perfectly.
  • Rose Garden – a great song. Lynn Anderson had a mammoth hit with this in 1970 (#3 pop, #1 country). The melody and words are irresistible. One of my favourite singing in the shower songs.
  • Mirror of Your Mind – slight mainstream pop psych …the mirror of your mind indeed!
  • Redneck – I'm not sure what this is about but it has a nice laid back groove.
  • Don't Throw Your Love to the Wind – a nice tune with some snappy (and slightly sappy) lyrics
  • The Greatest Love – MOR
  • Games People Play – another magnificent song. Seriously. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Games_People_Play_(1969_song)

Oh we make one another cry

Break a heart then we say goodbye

Cross our hearts and we hope to die

That the other was to blame

 

Neither one ever will give in

So we gaze at our eight by ten

Thinking 'bout the things that might have been

It's a dirty rotten shame

 

La-da da da da da da da

La-da da da da da de

Talking 'bout you and me

And the games people play

 

People walking up to you

Singing glory hallelulia

And they're tryin to sock it to you

In the name of the Lord

 

They're gonna teach you how to meditate

Read your horoscope, cheat your faith

And further more to hell with hate

Come on and get on board

 

La-da da da da da da da

La-da da da da da de

Talking 'bout you and me

And the games people play

 

  • These Are Not My People – a counter counter-culture song. Cynical and decidedly unhip in lyrics but quite perceptive, and freaking catchy.
  • Don't You Be Ashamed –
  • Birds of a Feather-Not too bad but a little like some of the other tunes on the album
  • Gabriel- a strange (lyrically) extended workout with all the music tricks of the late 60s

And …

Yes…. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1969 Birds Of A Feather  The Billboard Hot 100 #96

1969 Games People Play  The Billboard Hot 100  #12

Album

1968 #117

England

Singles

Album

 

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Joe_South/Introspect/5cb7e69b-0d9f-30c0-9914-96fbefc44028/

Games People Play

live

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5znh58WITU8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvzGAW4BB34

 

These Are Not My People

attached MP3

Joe South – These Are Not My People

Others

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBPBWLmF-W8

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/introspect-mw0000843934

http://redkelly.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/joe-south-and-believers-shelter-capitol.html

http://thriftyvinyl.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/joe-south-introspect-1968/

http://www.lavieenrobe.com/2012/09/joe-south-decency-empathy-and-electric-sitars.html

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/joe-south-mn0000171994

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_South

Website

http://www.joesouth.com/

Trivia

  • allmusic: "South took several years off after his brother's suicide in 1971, moving to Maui and living in the jungles. He had proven a rather prickly character, recording a song entitled "I'm a Star"; he was also busted for drugs and, never entirely comfortable performing, was known for an antagonistic stance in concert (he once suggested that audience members start dancing around the concert hall and kiss his ass as they approached the stage)".
  • According to South's website, he as a child, was interested in technology and developed his own radio station with a one-mile transmission area.
  • Please someone – write a biography!

Joe South - Publicity Picture

About Franko

Hi, I'm just a person with a love of music, a lot of records and some spare time. My opinions are comments not reviews and are mine so don't be offended if I have slighted your favourite artist. I have listened to a lot of music and I don't pretend to be impartial. You can contact me on franklycollectible@gmail.com though I would rather you left a comment. I also sell music at http://www.franklycollectible.com Cheers
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