Ode to Billie Joe / Touch Em With Love
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Touch 'Em With Love
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Combined for the first time on one CD, two unique albums by the legendary Grammy-Award winning singer/songwriter Bobbie Gentry. With superb quality audio, seven rare bonus tracks, deluxe booklet and detailed liner notes. Best remembered for her first and biggest hit, the bittersweet 'Ode to Billie Joe', Gentry continued to prove herself a performer and writer of rare talent, issuing a string of high quality albums until her retirement in the mid 1970s. Her recordings have undergone serious re-evaluation in recent years. Her debut album Ode to Billie Joe (1967) and Touch 'em with Love (1969) are superb examples of her artistry at work. Ode to Billie Joe went to #1 on both the Billboard Country and Pop charts. 27 tracks total.
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I would like to add that there is only one Bobbie Gentry album left which Raven has not released, but it is a duet record, made with Glen Campbell. It is the fourth album, between 1968's LOCAL GENTRY and TOUCH 'EM WITH LOVE, from 1969.
This last pairing is fascinating for displaying Bobbie's artistic evolution in one big jump from her first to her fifth record. Although I do see some parallels on TOUCH with DUSTY IN MEMPHIS (the inclusion of Bobbie's version of "Son Of A Preacher Man" invites comparison), the overall quality of this record is rougher and swampier. Unlike Dusty, Bobbie was a real Southerner by birth. MEMPHIS is a polished, sophisticated and reverential homage, whereas Gentry's work is flavored by its authenticity. ODE was and is a startling and unique creation, as were Bobbie's second and third albums. But the stylistic approaches and song selection of these two Bobbie Gentry albums are quite different, which is why their coupling is so interesting. For one thing, the covers outnumber the originals on TOUCH, whereas Gentry's debut contains but one cover. Other differences include a cohesive, vividly individualistic quality on ODE, and more of a pastiche approach on TOUCH. The guitar rhythms on the first album are mostly based on the same figure, which counts toward a unified feel and consistency of mood, even between the fast and slow songs. TOUCH seems to have been a bid for greater commercial appeal, with "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" becoming a huge hit in England as proof of its success. Gentry's followup album, FANCY, would continue in this same vein, but its title song, Gentry's own, harkens back to "Ode To Billie Joe," as it is a "story song" concerning rural people. Gentry's final album, PATCHWORK, would return Bobbie Gentry to her beginnings, being almost entirely self-penned and conceptual, rather than just a collection of songs. PATCHWORK's atmosphere was similar to ODE's, but its instrumentation was broader, as on TOUCH 'EM WITH LOVE, an album which can therefore be viewed as a transitional work.
Bobbie Gentry's evolving career never caught fire with the general public, once the frenzy over the hit single, "Ode To Billie Joe" died down, and that's a pity. After seven albums and a handful of singles, Gentry packed it in. What she left, however, was a singular body of work that withstands the test of time, perhaps even gaining some luster for its author's mysterious disappearing act. Her like will never be seen again. I recommend all three of Raven's Bobbie Gentry "twofers," and am also thankful for the bonus tracks they each contain.
Good memories.... It was therapeutic among so many of the "not-so-good-memories' over the past 40 years.
I'm sorry Bobbie Gentry retired so young; but then, maybe it was best. We remember her at the height of years.
I highly recommend buying the CD... :)
Mississippi Delta, where several movies have been filmed. Two of which are "The Reivers" (Steve McQueen)
and "The Help" (academy award winner Viola Davis)