Blues and Soul, 1970
Joe began the year at home and performed yet another local benefit, this time to support the Operation Upgrade adult literacy program. Joe told the Baton Rouge Advocate he wanted to support other local talent but warned of the pitfalls of the showbiz lifestyle. “You don’t belong to yourself in the entertainment business. You’re away from home a lot; it’s not stable.” He stated performers faced dangers from night club violence, constant highway travel and drugs. He declared “I don’t drink or smoke or take dope.” At the Operation Upgrade concert Joe received an Honorary Mayor’s certificate and the keys to the city.
Later in January Joe headed out for
Joe received good reviews for his performances on the tour. He took a seven piece band (plus two go-go dancers) although this was dwarfed by Sam and Dave’s sixteen piece 'orchestra'. Much attention was paid to the short skirted go-go girls; their movements described by French magazine Soul Bag as “swingantes et suggestives”.
Joe later said to writer John Abbey, "I have always used dancers because I always like to give the public a good show… No, I don't feel that I need them for my show but I do feel they add something to what I'm doing. After all, we all depend on the public to eat and I like to bring something for them to get satisfaction from.”
In many ways the tour marked the demise of the 60’s soul revue with gospel charged ‘let me hear you say yeah’ singers performing in front of giant brass sections. The 1960’s had come to an end and so had the golden era of classic Atlantic/Stax soul. Joe would have to adjust before he found his way – but unlike many 60’s soul stars he would be back.
Joe’s late 1969 Memphis recordings came out in early 1970 as Joe Tex sings with strings and things – an odd title as only three tracks featured string orchestrations. Instead the album was as diverse as anything that came before it; stomping old time R&B shuffles, steel guitar adorned country, a gorgeous Time I get to
Nevertheless the lyrically curious You’re right Ray Charles (Ray told Joe to get funky? Ray was hardly laying down Cold Sweat at this point) lived on as the basis for the Buddy Miles instrumental which he appropriately titled Joe Tex. A few years later the opening horn riff reappeared in Funkadelic’s Standing on the verge of getting it on.
Following the failure of Strings there was a decision to a) quickly record new material and b) change the formula. Out went Buddy Killen,
The writing was on the wall, “The romance had died with
The Raelettes with Mable John
Joe’s biggest chart success in 1970 was as the writer of I want to (do everything for you) which the Raelettes took to No.30 R&B in a new stop start arrangement. At this point Ray Charles’ back up singers featured Mable John who recorded Joe’s challenging Don’t hit me no more in 1967.
In the same year that Joe was awarded the keys to
In 1971 Joe was offered the chance to open for the Rolling Stones who always showed excellent taste in their choice of supporting acts. Sadly it did not come about. The shows could have helped expose Joe to rock audiences as happened to BB King and Ike & Tina Turner on other Stones’ tours.
The deal with
Trying all angles the next single was the country fable Papa’s dream, possibly inspired by the success of Clarence Carter’s Patches the year before. Still no hit but undeniably a great song, it was picked up by Johnny Cash who named an album after its revised title Look at them beans.
The dry spell was finally broken in November 1971 when Joe’s always keen ear for the market paid dividends. Joe picked up on King Floyd’s hot