The World of Joe Tex

Singer, dancer, writer, preacher, rapper, comic and all around original...

1975-77:  I'm going back again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jet magazine, 1977 

 

After three years of preaching and fund raising, touring many of the cities he had worked as an entertainer  Joe felt the itch to return to music. He told Jet magazine “I intended to return to my job one day”.  After Elijah Muhammed died in February 1975, Joe received the approval of the Nation of Islam to begin recording and performing again.

 

Joe returned to the Sound Shop studio in Nashville for the first time since declaring I’ve seen enough in 1972. With Buddy Killen at the helm as before, the first song recorded was Under your powerful love which  brought Joe back to No.27 on the R&B charts in August 1975.  The B side was Sassy Sexy Wiggle, one of Joe’s raunchiest yet, sung in a strangled voice contorted with lust. Joe’s years as a Muslim preacher had not stopped him getting down and dirty on record. When questioned by Cliff White on the apparent contradictions between his faith and music, Joe answered; "The only thing I can say is that it's all reality; I don't handle fiction too well. Stuff like getting the little girl to sneak behind the house, that's real. I would rather face the truth than deal with something further down the road.”

 

Staying in the sexually explicit style of the times (Marvin Gaye’s Let’s get it on had ushered in a new frankness during Joe’s layoff)  Tex recorded other raunchy singles like My body wants you but without chart success.

 

In July 1975 Joe cut a whole album’s worth of material in New Orleans. Produced by Joe without Buddy Killen only two tracks were released at the time (Have you ever and Baby it’s rainin’ which listed Norman Thrasher as co-producer). Some years later Buddy presented the session tapes to a surprised British writer and reissue producer, Cliff White. Cliff duly mastered the tracks which appeared on the 1989 Charly collection Different strokes. The sessions show Joe had lost neither his sense of anger at the world’s injustices; It’s ridiculous has him railing against racism, or his cheeky sense of humour – Insanity, does it run in your family? he questioned. Better check your family tree!

 

 

In the early 1970's Joe fathered another son, Joseph Hazziez, in California. In 1975 he married  his last wife, Bilaliah Hazziez. They moved to his ranch in Navasota, Bilaliah remembers the sign saying 'Land of milk and honey' on the edge of the small town. Their son, Ramadan was born the same year.  

Joe’s comeback recording sessions only produced a handful of Dial singles and no further hits (unless you count Have you ever scraping to No.74 R&B).  Buddy Killen had stopped issuing product on the Dial imprint by 1976 and Joe signed with CBS subsidiary Epic who wisely kept the ever present Buddy as Joe’s producer.

Have you ever referenced new disco dances like the bump and double bump but remained rooted in old time R&B musically. The breakthrough came in early 1977 when Joe and Buddy kicked into gear with the new disco sound mixing “a little George McCrae riff…with a bit of KC.”

 

AIN'T GONNA BUMP

 

The lyrics of Ain’t gonna bump no more (with no fat woman) were pure Joe Tex, ever conscious of large and small female body shapes as he was.  Even Leroy won another mention (Say Leroy, you can have this one too!).  Nevertheless the song was credited to Buddy Killen and Joe’s aunt Bennie Lee McGinty. Bennie Lee traveled as a chaperone with Joe’s band for many years and co-wrote a number of Joe’s songs from 1976 onwards. Bennie Lee's credits may have been for financial reasons as Joe had many problems with the IRS in his later career.

 

Ain't gonna bump proved Joe could be the comeback kid yet again. In the heart of the disco boom he was back to No.7 R&B and No.12 Pop. Joe’s return to form pleased not only disco dancers but many longtime fans who were thrilled to see Joe back with a song reflecting the unique Tex-tian attitude to life.

 

Joe took the shift in musical styles in his stride saying "The disco sound  is just part of a circle that music goes through every once in a while. It is slowly fading."  Joe did notice that his new hit was getting a less than positive reaction from larger women. Talking to Rolling Stone magazine he mimicked a typical response;  "You was talkin' about me! Now my husband don't like me, he's telling me to lose weight!" Joe found the solution was to hold  Big Fat Woman Bump contests with $100 prizes.  "Once we started giving away cash money they started easing off!"

 

 

Back on Soul Train and appearing at the 1978 Grammy awards, although a little heavier than his 60’s heyday, Joe showed he had lost none of his expertise. A rejuvenated Tex wrote and recorded the Bumps and Bruises album which came out in May 1977. Filled with trademark humour and character voices, the collection features the old lady who turns the tables on a young mugger and has Joe looking for a surgeon to cut off his hands because they cause him so much trouble!  Bumps  also includes one of his best country songs We held on (later recorded by Nashville star Bill Anderson) and poignant ballads such as There’s something wrong. Much better than could be expected from a novelty disco hit the LP deservedly took Joe back into the Pop and R&B album charts.

 

 

Joe took the success as a sign that Allah was guiding his life, saying  “That's why when Buddy called to tell me that 'Ain't Gonna Bump' was a hit, it didn't surprise me. Don't you be surprised at whatever you see from here on.”

 

 

 

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