Tony Joe White – Lazy

Tony Joe White – Lazy

Tony Joe White – “Lazy” – track #6 on “Homemade Ice Cream” (1973). There are 11 songs on “Homemade Ice Cream”. In these 11 originals, the born-and-bred Louisiana native shows he’s comfortable with both the White southern gospel his musical family probably played and the blues of Jimmy Reed and Lightnin’ Hopkins, two of his first inspirations.

White uses a quartet of musicians – guitarist Reggie Young, organist David Briggs, bassist Norbert Putnam and drummer Kenny Malone — that bring out the soulful strut and stomping blues of these songs. On “No News is Good News,” White’s funked-up wah riffing, backed by Briggs’ chunky organ, is reminiscent of another swamp-funk unit from the Louisiana, the Meters. “Backwoods Preacher Man” celebrates a gospel country preacher with greasy slide guitar and a heavy low-end.

On such pieces, White sounds as much like a soul singer as a good ol’ country boy, never climbing out of a husky bass-baritone range. With no adjusting, the dusky grind of “Did Somebody Make a Fool Out of You” could be covered by such deep-throated soul masters as Solomon Burke and Isaac Hayes. He laces his velvety shudders on “Taking the Midnite Train” with powerful sensual ambiguity, as much sexual as it is sentimental.

In other places, White reflects other influences from Country’s melting pot. “Ol’ Mother Earth” and “California On My Mind” float on the easy breeze of folk-rock. “For Ol’ Times Sake” is just a string section and choir away from pure Nashville pop.

And of course, nostalgia, one of Country’s favorite moods, crops up repeatedly. The instrumental title track, with the bleary buzz of White’s harmonica, tugs the listener backwards to an idyllic childhood sweetness. The boogie of “Saturday Nite in Oak Grove, Louisiana” reminiscences about “going to town and circling the Dairy Queen to see who is hanging out” and pick-up trucks with fiberglass mufflers.

“Lazy,” which celebrates fishing and the liberation it bestows, brings the album full circle. The song rocks dreamily, a porch-swing blues White could most likely write in his sleep. Intentionally or not, White sums up Country music’s complicated, mongrel origins in just a few simple songs.

It was the sixth album released by Tony Joe White, and the third he released for Warner Brothers. It was produced by Tony Joe White and Atlantic legend Tom Dowd.

Artists:
Tony Joe White: Guitar, Harmonica
Reggie Young: Guitar
David Briggs: Piano, Organ
Norbert Putnam: Bass
Kenny Malone: Drums

Pictures by William Gedney. The man in the pictures is Junior Cornett and his girlfriend Linda (Kentucky 1974). Source: Duke University

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