Awash in danger, spiritual uncertainty, and environmental fury, the lyrical concerns on Tony Joe White’s latest Album, Hoodoo, are matched by a particularly intense strain of White’s trademark swamp funk. Hence the title’s double-edged meaning: “hoodoo” referring both to the songs’ ominous tone and the palpable vibe that filled the studio as the songs were cut. Cut mostly live to tape—vocals and all—much of Hoodoo consists of first takes. Culled from an initial stack of seventeen or eighteen tunes, the nine songs that comprise the album come alive in the haunting atmosphere and intensity of the stripped-down recording process.
Since 1968, many other artists have interpreted his songs, including Brook Benton’s unforgettable take on “Rainy Night in Georgia” in 1970, Elvis Presley’s live performances of “Polk Salad Annie,” and Tina Turner’s soulful rendition of “Steamy Windows.” Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Etta James, and many others have also covered the songs of this legendary singer and songwriter.