I’ve never understood why Tony Joe White wasn’t more acclaimed as a performer of his own material. Better known for penning tunes that became hits for Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield, Brook Benton and Hank Williams Jr., among others, White only scored one Top 10 hit as a singer. And that song, “Polk Salad Annie,” became a staple for Presley in the early 1970s.
Check out the remarkable “The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings” and you’ll see what I mean about White. This two disc combines the three albums he recorded for Warner Bros. — 1971’s self-titled masterpiece, 1972’s almost-as-good “The Train I’m On” and 1973’s good-but-not-great “Homemade Ice Cream” — and adds a handful of non-LP singles. It’s 40 tracks of country-blues bliss by an artist who’s never gotten his just due … but is still going strong at age 71.
Keepers abound on “The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings,” with White at his best on “They Caught the Devil and Put Him in Jail in Eudora, Arkansas,” “A Night in the Life of the Swamp Fox,” “I Just Walked Away,” “I’ve Got a Thing About You baby,” “300 Pounds of Hongry,” “The Migrant,” “I Want Love (‘Tween You and Me),” “Lazy” and “Backwoods Preacher Man.” Among the non-album cuts, “Delta Love,” “Sign of the Lion” and “Don’t Let the Door (Hit You in the Butt)” are the ones you’ll remember. (Jeffrey Sisk)