Joe Tex’s name first came to my attention when I read a story about a pre Motown Michael Jackson cheekily eyeing under woman’s dresses while singing Tex’s “Skinny Legs And All” in some of the raunchier nightclubs Joe had his sons playing in during the late 60’s. It was within the last year actually that Henrique and I got to talking about Joe Tex more in depth. It was during this conversation that I was informed about Tex’s rivalry with James Brown. It apparently goes back to the earliest days of their career-complete with hiss song from Tex in response to one of JB’s called “You Keep Her” in 1960.
Joe Tex had a fascinating musical career of his own. Again like JB,he was a major soul singles act for the decade between 1955 and 1964. From then on to the end of the 60’s,Tex released a number of albums in the country soul vein-filled with his hard driving gospel style vocal cries and shouts. Throughout the 70’s,his music went into a funk direction that (yet again) was very similar to JB’s. He even ended the 70’s when a pair of funk based disco records before his death of a heart attack in 1982. The only song I’ve really heard from his funk period is considered a classic,and really stands out for me. Its called “I Gotcha”.
The song begins with Tex singing over a cymbal heavy drum intro in his gospel drenched soul wail. That’s when the main body of the song kicks in. This is a very thick instrumental mixture. A thick piano line more or less dominates,with a round bass line that exactly counters the melody. On each accent of the song,there’s a high pitched and very smooth rhythm guitar playing and horn blasts on the transitions between choruses. After each chorus,the song reduces back down to the drum and Joe Tex only approach that made up the intro of the song. Its all back to the instrumentally thick chorus as the song fades.
When I first heard this song,courtesy of Henrique, the James Brown influence hit me right over the head. This came mostly from Tex’s shouts and holler based vocal approach. When I actually listened to this song,it became apparent that the instrumentation and production are quite different. Joe Tex isn’t looking for his funk band to be a drum on this song. Each instrument plays its own role. The piano and bass dictate where the melody is going,while the drums serve as the beat for which Tex’s voice is the hard driving percussive element. That gives this 1971 funk classic its own spicy groove.