Tony Joe White – Snakey


The title track that opens the Swamp Fox’s latest offering sounds almost like a variation on his bluesy “As A Crow Flies,” from 1972’s The Train I’m On. Hallelujah!

At this point in his career, White’s songwriting has earned him a comfortable enough living to allow him the luxury of doing what he damn well pleases, free from labels and producers trying to knead him into the latest trend. As a result, Tony Joe has released a string of the kind of albums his loyal fans have yearned for since the days of “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia.”

With spare but solid backing of drums, bass, and keyboards (the latter played by either Carson Whitsett or White himself), this is pure Tony Joe – backing his soulful baritone with harmonica and a variety of guitar tones (from gnarly Slim Harpo squall to Mexican-tinged gut-string). The set of 10 originals covers a range of themes and grooves that only White could pull off – from love realized and love lost (“Nothing I Would Not Do” and “All Those Tomorrows,” respectively) to novelty (“The Organic Shuffle”) to social commentary (“Rico (14) Field Worker”) to eery tales of the swamp (“Bayou Bleus”).

I don’t know if that’s his “whomper stomper” or “swamp box” he’s plugged into on the infectious riff of “Living Off The Land,” but the result is one of the coolest wah/fuzz tones committed to disc in years – with a good old-fashioned wah-wah solo to boot. And there’s another helping of screaming, sustainy fuzz on “Taste Like Chicken” – another mini classic from the pen of this one-of-a-kind stylist.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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