miércoles, 21 de octubre de 2009

Bobbie Gentry: Ode to Billie Joe (1967) / Touch 'em With Love (1969)

Bobbie Gentry's eerily beautiful, ornate, and almost gothic approach to country music means there's never really been another artist quite like her, and this disc, which pairs 1967's Ode to Billie Joe, her debut album, with 1969's more pop and polished Touch 'Em with Love, offers plenty of that uniqueness. The opener, 'Mississippi Delta,' is raw, energetic, and raggedly funky. 'I Saw an Angel Die' is an effective mating of Gentry's country-blues guitar riffs and low-key orchestration, while 'Papa, Won't You Let Me Go to Town with You' is so desperately bright that it's easy to overlook the fact that Gentry, who is a wonderful songwriter, has painted an amazingly detailed portrait of a young girl's hopes and dreams. Then there's the creepy, eerie, and absolutely fascinating 'Bugs' and, last but not least, 'Ode To Billie Joe,' a storytelling tune about a secret love affair whose doom is related over a Sunday dinner. The song’s enigmatic question - what was it that Billie Joe and his lady friend threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge? - was the topic of conversation in supermarkets and over dinner. It even became the subject of church sermons. The tune itself was irresistible, a four minute audio book with an unforgettable acoustic guitar hook, bass, and occasional strings swooping into and out of the mix. Released in the summer of 1967, it almost immediately shot to #1 on the strength of sales and radio play. Touch 'Em With Love is Bobbie Gentry's finest studio effort, a fascinatingly eclectic and genuinely affecting record that broadened her musical horizons far beyond the limitations of the Nashville sound. Gentry's husky, sensual delivery proves as ideally suited for the Southern-fried funk of the opening title track as it does for the bluegrass-flavored 'Natural to Be Gone,' deftly moving from genre to genre to encompass everything from faux-gospel ('Glory Hallelujah, How They'll Sing') to lushly orchestrated pop ('I Wouldn't Be Surprised'). Even more eye-opening is that Gentry's originals stand tall alongside material from composers including Burt Bacharach ('I'll Never Fall in Love Again,' which earned her a chart-topping single in the U.K.) and Jimmy Webb ('Where's the Playground, Johnny') — her folky 'Seasons Come, Seasons Go,' an acute tale of lost love, offers Touch 'Em With Love's most profoundly beautiful moment. I have added as bonus tracks EIGHT duets with Glen Campbell from the lone album the two did together. http://www.answers.com/
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Bobbie Gentry's live performance of her classic 'Ode to Billie Joe', from the Smothers Brothers show:
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