Tony Joe White’s swamp-rock magic 

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For many, Tony Joe White is best remembered as the author of hits from 50 years ago, including “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia.” Yet White has been churning out Delta blues-rock, largely unnoticed, for several decades. Since 2013, the Yep Roc label has promoted White’s revival, and the new Bad Mouthin’ (Yep Roc) is the culminating jewel. White strips down the recording process to voice, Fender Stratocaster and occasional backup musicians Bryan Owings and Steve Forrest, all recorded and mixed in a horse stable on White’s property.

The result is a rich stew of a dozen originals and covers, delivered in a deep bass voice that suggests a swamp-rock Elvis or more well-adjusted Howlin’ Wolf. The best tracks are White’s own, like “Sundown Blues” and the title song, but even covers like Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Baby Please Don’t Go” are fresh. The delivery of these tunes is so raw and intimate, one could almost imagine Alan Lomax hovering in the background to record White for the Library of Congress.


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