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BBR Reissues “More More More” of Joe Tex, Latimore, Timmy Thomas

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Joe Tex - Bumps and BruisesJoe Tex certainly didn’t hide his Bumps and Bruises when he arrived at Epic Records in 1977 after a five-year retirement.  In fact, he titled the album after them!  Only the self-described Clown Prince of Soul could have gotten away with song titles like “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)” and the even more politically incorrect “Be Cool (Willie Is Dancing with a Sissy).”  Big Break has revisited this slab of funky southern soul in a remastered edition with three bonus cuts.

Joe Tex was born Joseph Arrington Jr. in Rogers, Texas, and took his stage surname from the Lone Star State.  Traveling to New York, Joe’s musical gifts saw him repeatedly win the top prize at the Apollo’s Amateur Night.  But his colorful personality was equally evident from the start of his career.  His first record label affiliation came with King Records, where he claimed to have authored Little Willie John’s “Fever.”  (Otis Blackwell and Joe Cooley, the song’s credited authors, disputed this.)  Though he couldn’t catch the “Fever,” he did compose an answer to “his” song, “Pneumonia.”  In 1958, he signed to Ace Records, developing his outrageous stage persona and signature dance moves that he would later accuse perpetual nemesis (and King recording artist) James Brown of stealing!  When Brown recorded Tex’s “Baby You’re Right” in a rewrite substantial enough to earn Brown a credit, Tex was chagrined.  (Apparently the song and the dance moves weren’t the only things Brown poached from Tex.  Matt Bauer’s liner notes in BBR’s new reissue detail another episode involving Tex’s wife…!)

In the early 1960s, Tex hooked up with producer Buddy Killen, who went on to form the Dial label as a vehicle for Tex’s talent.  Killen’s belief in Tex paid off when the Muscle Shoals-recorded “Hold On to What You’ve Got” (1965) topped the R&B charts and went Top 5 Pop.  Numerous other R&B hits followed for Tex on the Atlantic-distributed Dial label including the million-sellers “Skinny Legs and All” (1967) and “I Gotcha” (1971).  The latter had such crossover success that even the likes of Liza Minnelli performed it on her famed Liza with a Z television special in 1972.  Tex became well-known for his funky beats as well as his frequent spoken-word raps, both of which you’ll hear on Bumps and Bruises.

The smoldering funk of “I Gotcha” might have launched Tex to new heights, but he heard a different calling.  Taking the name Yusef Hazziez, Tex became a minister for the Nation of Islam.  Bumps and Bruises was not just a return to form, but a return to secular music and show business.  Buddy Killen again produced the 9-track album, recording with Tex in Nashville.  Its first single “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)” – with enough disco flavor to earn favor on the dancefloor – scored a Top 10 R&B berth, No. 12 Pop, and No. 2 on the U.K. singles chart.  It even received the extended 12-inch Disco Single treatment.  The second 45, the smooth and yearning “Hungry for Your Love,” reached No. 84 R&B.  With Tex’s trademark offbeat humor (most notable on the kooky “Jump Bad” about a little old lady who takes the law into her own hands!) and a blend of sizzling grooves and ballads, Bumps and Bruises didn’t disappoint.  One more Epic album would follow before Tex returned to the Dial label; he died of a heart attack at just 47 years of age in 1982.

BBR’s reissue has been remastered by Nick Robbins and includes three bonus tracks, all single versions: U.S. A-sides “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More” and “Hungry for Your Love” and U.K. A-side “We Held On.”

After the jump: the label gives More More More with two TK Records classics!  Plus: order links and track listings for all three titles!

Timmy Thomas - Why Can't We Live TogetherBBR has also returned to raid the vaults of Henry Stone’s famed Miami label TK Records for two more soulful offerings.

Timmy Thomas’ Why Can’t We Live Together arrived in 1972, built around the hypnotic Pop No. 3/R&B No. 1 title track.  The spare, one-man-band production featured just Thomas’ impassioned vocal supported by his own organ and primitive sounding percussion, but the singer’s message of peace and brotherhood shone through loud and clear.  The timely lyrics and distinctive recording style helped propel the album to a No. 10 R&B/No. 53 Pop berth.

Born in Indiana and influenced by the great jazz organist Jimmy Smith, Thomas started out pursuing his jazz muse, playing with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and Donald Byrd.  But the siren song of R&B soon called out, and he recorded a handful of songs for labels including Goldwax and Climax.  His day job as a teacher, however, led him to Florida, where his musical career got a new lease on life.  Thomas attracted local attention playing organ at his own Timmy’s Lounge in Miami, and when he shopped around his demo of “Why Can’t We Live Together” to TK’s Henry Stone and Steve Alaimo, the entrepreneurs saw its great potential.  Alaimo pushed for the release of the original demo in “as is” condition, and the rest of the ensuing album was crafted in the same stripped-down R&B style.

Thomas penned eight of the album’s ten compositions, rounding out the LP with an instrumental rendition of Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (a then-recent hit for Roberta Flack) and a Carl Davis and Eugene Record’s Chi-Lites ballad “The Coldest Days of My Life,” shorn of that group’s trademark harmonies.  Thomas’ resonant voice, stabs of organ and simple drum machine-like patterns (created by a percussion option on his organ, per Thomas as quoted in J. Matthew Cobb’s comprehensive liner notes) brought to life his incisive, pointed and politically-charged songs including the hopeful, inclusive “Rainbow People,” the angry “Cold, Cold People” and the lament of “Opportunity.”

The new reissue of the original Glades LP, remastered by Nick Robbins, adds the non-LP single “People Are Changin’” plus the single versions of “Why Can’t We Live Together” and its B-side, “Funky Me.”  As Thomas puts in Cobb’s fine essay, “’No matter what color, you’re still my brother’ – those things, man, are just as important now as they were in ’72 when I put the message out.”  And this many years later, with its stark, proto-hip-hop beats, Why Can’t We Live Together still sounds like few other classic soul albums.

Latimore - More More MoreAlso from the TK empire and the Glades label comes Latimore’s 1974 long-player More More More (Let’s Straighten It Out).  Benjamin “Benny” Latimore was born in Tennessee, and like Timmy Thomas, found his way to Miami and to Henry Stone.  Hooking up as a session keyboardist with TK’s Steve Alaimo – he had previously played sessions in Nashville and brought with him some experience – Latimore made his solo debut on the Blade imprint in 1967.  When he released his first solo LP in 1973, another great keyboard player, Al Kooper, joined him to produce and arrange a couple of tracks.  But Latimore scored R&B hits with the album’s reinterpretations of T-Bone Walker’s venerable “Stormy Monday” and Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “If I Were Your Woman,” sung as “If You Were My Woman.”

The stage was set for a sophomore LP to be produced by Steve Alaimo.  More More More didn’t rely on the popular covers of Carole King, Elton John and Stephen Stills tunes like Latimore’s first LP, but rather on more blues-oriented songs by Willie Hale, a.k.a. Little Beaver, Deadric Malone and Joseph Scott (Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do,” in a swinging treatment) and Latimore and Alaimo themselves.  And More More More offered less, less, less when it came to orchestration.  With the strings and horns from the previous album out of the picture, emphasis was placed squarely on Latimore’s voice and lean, mean band arrangements for his keyboards (including organ, piano, electric piano and melodica), Ron Bogdon’s bass, Robert Furgeson’s drums, Little Beaver’s guitar, and even Mike Lewis and Whit Sigener’s flutes.

The crown jewel of the album – which touched on blues, jazz, funk and soul – was “Let’s Straighten It Out,” an R&B chart-topper which also hit No. 31 on the Pop chart.  Latimore wrote the song himself, a smoldering, dramatic and direct address to his lady.  The lengthy original version was edited to create the single version, which is included here as a bonus track.

J. Matthew Cobb tells the Latimore story in his detailed liner notes, and Nick Robbins again remasters.  Both Why Can’t We Live Together and More More More show off two very different sides of the familiar TK Records disco empire.

All three releases from Big Break Records are available now and can be ordered at the links below!

Joe Tex, Bumps and Bruises: Expanded Edition (Epic LP PE-34666, 1977 – reissued Big Break CDBBR 0247, 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)
  2. Leaving You Dinner
  3. Be Cool (Willie is Dancing with a Sissy)
  4. I Mess Up Everything I Get My Hands On
  5. We Held On
  6. I Almost Got to Heaven Once
  7. Hungry for Your Love
  8. Jump Bad
  9. There’s Something Wrong
  10. Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman) (Epic single 50313, 1976)
  11. Hungry for Your Love (Epic single 50426, 1977)
  12. We Held On (Epic (U.K.) single S EPC 5374, 1977)

Timmy Thomas, Why Can’t We Live Together (Glades LP ST-6501, 1972 – reissued Big Break CDBBR 0245, 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Why Can’t We Live Together
  2. Rainbow Power
  3. Take Care of Home
  4. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
  5. The Coldest Days of My Life
  6. In the Beginning
  7. Cold Cold People
  8. Opportunity
  9. Dizzy Dizzy World
  10. Funky Me
  11. People Are Changin’ (Glades single 1709-A, 1973)
  12. Why Can’t We Live Together (Glades single 1703-A, 1972)
  13. Funky Me (Glades single 1703-B, 1972)

Latimore, More More More (Let’s Straighten It Out) (Glades LP ST-6503, 1974 – reissued Big Break CDBBR 0246, 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Ain’t Nothing You Can Do
  2. Snap Your Fingers
  3. That’s How It Is
  4. Let’s Straighten It Out
  5. Ain’t Nobody Gonna Make Me Change My Mind
  6. I Don’t Know
  7. Put Pride Aside
  8. Everyday
  9. Let’s Straighten It Out (Single Version) (Glades single 1722, 1974)

Written by Joe Marchese

November 1, 2013 at 09:59

2 Responses

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  1. Gotta look into all of these. I’m a big fan of TK – it’s time for some Gwen McRae reissues!

    Jeremy Shatan

    November 1, 2013 at 10:25

  2. Bumps & Bruises is not Joe Tex at his best, but worth a listen if you’re a fan already.


    November 4, 2013 at 15:49

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