Tony Joe White - Uncovered (2006)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 318 Mb (incl 5%) | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 128 Mb (incl 5%) | Scans ~ 167 Mb
Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Blues, Swamp Blues, Country Rock | Label: Swamp Records | # 7707243-2 | Time: 00:53:28
Tony Joe White says he always saw the friends he invited to play on his new album--Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, J.J. Cale, Michael McDonald, and the late Waylon Jennings--as "keepers of the fire." They're also premier custodians of loneliness and despair, the two emotions that lie at the heart of this hypnotic submersion into country/swamp blues. From the kickoff track, "Run for Cover," with Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns, these meditations on mourning--lost lovers, spiritual struggles, anxiety that knows no name and no bottom--grab the listener fast and pull him down into swirling dark waters.
For that reason, there's a numbing sameness--on occasion, two songs back-to-back seem to simply be extensions of each other. But while Jennings's effort is more a portrait of the artist testing his chops after suffering a stroke, other collaborations stick in the mind. The dour Knopfler shows up on the most optimistic song, "Not One Bad Thought," but his vocals still sound like the barely uttered words of a depressive on a bad down. Clapton's voice remains characteristically modest on "Did Somebody Make a Fool Out of You," yet his guitar work--measured and full of emotion--proves what you don't play is as important as what you do. Still, the best pairing is that with Michael McDonald on "Baby, Don't Look Down." When White's smoky rumble meets McDonald's bruised, angelic tenor, you'll know why God made music.
Review by Alanna Nash, Amazon.com
Swamp Fox indeed. At this juncture, Tony Joe White should be called the Swamp Monster because on Uncovered he takes it to the limit. There are seven new cuts on Uncovered, and reworked versions of "Rainy Night in Georgia," "Taking the Midnight Train," and "Did Somebody Make a Fool Out of You." White has been making records for a long time, though not many in the U.S. noticed after the late '70s. Since late in the last century, White has been kicking them out from his home studio in Nash Vegas. The sound is trademark, slow-burning, and growling. It's sultry as a late August night in the bayou. There are also, as is becoming de rigueur for legends these days, some surprise guest appearances. White has used them before and recently, on his killer Heroines set, where he played and sang with Shelby Lynne, Lucinda Williams, and Emmylou Harris. This time out he's got some great partners. He cut "Not One Bad Thought," with Mark Knopfler. The skittering interplay between them is worth the disc price to be sure. The pair apparently got together around a campfire with some food and beer and played the tune there first; they cut it in the studio shortly thereafter. Michael McDonald -- yep, that one -- guests on piano and vocals on "Don't Look Down," and it works like a charm, surprisingly. But the biggest news here is "Shakin' the Blues" with the late Waylon Jennings. It's one of the last performances he ever wrote or laid down on tape, and the pair feel like the old friends they are. White can sing or play with anybody, which is why his music translated so well to other performers -- primarily soul and R&B artists -- but when collaborating, that guitar and slow, drawling menace are so sinister, there's no mistake about whose tune it is. Only on "Shakin the Blues" does that feel different, because of the sheer strength of Jennings' enigma. On other tracks, such as "Louvelda," J.J. Cale contributed from Oklahoma, and wrote and sang two new verses for the song. Eric Clapton recorded his additions to "Did Somebody Make a Fool Out of You" from London and sent them -- ahhhh -- via digital technology. The whispering, funky blues of "Rebellion" when White lets it rip is another high point, and his band is perfectly suited to his pace and tension dynamic. "Rainy Night in Georgia," suffers not a bit from having been re-recorded. It's still one of the most beautiful songs to come out of the Deep South. The disc ends on an evil note with "Keeper of the Fire," with its fuzzed-out blues simmer and soulful backing vocals by Odessa Settles, and a horn section featuring Wayne Jackson on trumpet. White never needs to raise his voice because the power in its nearly whispered restraint has all the power of a slow-burning fire that becomes a blaze. For those who didn't already know, White is back -- with a vengeance.
01. Run for Cover (04:42)
02. Not One Bad Thought [w. Mark Knopfler] (05:35)
03. Did Somebody Make a Fool Out of You [w. Eric Clapton] (04:50)
04. Louvelda [w. J.J. Cale] (07:33)
05. Rebellion (05:24)
06. Shakin' the Blues [w. Waylon Jennings] (05:19)
07. Rainy Night in Georgia (05:48)
08. Baby Don't Look Down [w. Michael McDonald] (04:48)
09. Taking the Midnight Train (04:34)
10. Keeper of the Fire (04:50)