jueves, 15 de octubre de 2009

Bobbie Gentry: The Delta Sweete / Local Gentry (1968)

Bobbie Gentry's second and third albums, Delta Sweete and Local Gentry may not have been as successful as their predecessor, Ode to Billie Joe, but how could they have been? If they didn't sell near as well, they certainly were more adventurous. Banking on Ode to Billie Joe's success, Delta Sweete, released in March of 1968, was a concept album based on modern life in the Deep South. A lot of emphasis was put on the unique sound of Gentry's guitar and her unique singing and phrasing styles. Gentry wrote eight of the album's 12 tracks, with 'Okolona River Bottom Band' using the same basic cadence as her smash single's; the track is accented by a beautiful, sophisticated horn chart and some breathy strings. Likewise her reading of Mose Allison's 'Parchman Farm Blues' brings out the brass and strings in full jazz, big band fashion. The way it fades into Gentry's own 'Mornin' Glory,' with its high lonesome harmonica and shimmering strings and bells, is a forgotten '60s pop classic. 'Sermon' is a fine southern take on Neil Diamond's 'Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show' with a smoking lead trumpet part. Local Gentry is an exquisitely wrought collection of character studies steeped in the myth and lore of Southern culture, from the funeral parlor director portrayed in 'Casket Vignette' to the titular 'Ace Insurance Man,' Bobbie Gentry etches a series of revealing, well-observed narratives populated by folks both larger-than-life and small-time, adding up to something not unlike a country-pop Spoon River Anthology. A subtle, primarily acoustic effort, the record's sound and sensibility are steeped in Gentry's Mississippi upbringing, but despite the music's warmth and humanity, the effect is neither nostalgic nor saccharine — instead, Gentry wistfully and wryly evokes a colorful rural culture populated by soldiers, widows, and traveling medicine shows. The five original compositions here rank among her most literate and personal, while covers like the Beatles' 'Fool on the Hill' and 'Eleanor Rigby' add to the roll call of misfits, eccentrics, and beautiful losers. There are three bonus cuts included here, the best of which is a refreshing read on 'Stormy.' http://www.allmusic.com/
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Bobbie and Bing Crosby duet on one of Bobbie's hits about the Delta, 'Okolona River Bottom Band'. From The Hollywood Palace, Jan. 1969.

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