Preview TX Jelly by The Texas Gentlemen.
TX Jelly by The Texas Gentlemen
If you’ve had the privilege to enter the hallowed FAME studios at 603 Avalon Avenue, Muscle Shoals and imagined where Aretha played the opening chords of “I Never Loved A Man” to Spooner Oldham, on electric piano, before he picked up the song and helped create a classic then you can’t help but know that, like the first space walk, it was here that something was taking place that was phenomenal. The place has that importance and feel and I can well imagine the thrill of studio time and a head full of ideas. This is the opportunity that befell The Texas Gentlemen: they used their time well.
This Dallas collective’s debut with TX Jelly unleashes a faithful and heartfelt confection of sounds that make you immediately think of the most enduring Rock and Country sounds of yesteryear. Beau Bedford, says of FAME “we figured out at worst, we would have a great time as friends hanging out in one of the most historic studios in America”. As a consequence the album has a live feel and you get the impression that the band were uninhibited by a prescribed set list and plan (!) What came out was diverse, authentic, interesting and on occasion wickedly funky.
The band has worked together for some time and has been the backing band for box office successes such as Kris Kristofferson, George Strait, Ed Sheeran, Leon Bridges and Ron Wylie Hubbard. Frankly sat behind these artists then they must be adaptable and believable in any style. To this end they effortlessly slip into another genre and completely own it.
“Habbie Doobie” is a 1970’s rock jam. You could well imagine them starting with this in the studio just to find a groove at the start of recording. We get the band playing around before they huddle around and play off a melody. Thumping bass, guitar played through an amplifier that makes it squeal before other solos follow.
The PR talks of George Harrison or The Band influences on “Pain”. Nah… let’s talk about Elton John circa Honky Chateau. Listen to that piano chorus for heaven’s sake. In one of a couple of interesting lyrics this tells the story with offbeat comedy of a femme fatale who works her way through the band with dire consequences… the video involves a lot of fake blood.
“Dream Along”, “My Way” and “Pretty Flowers” are traditional Country. All the tracks are beautifully nailed and the simplicity of arrangement and production, which seemed a hallmark of 1960’s and 70’s FAME, is evident. Again this is the real thing where pedal steel abounds. The vocals have all the personality and heartfelt emotion that still has people reaching for their Merle Haggard stashes. (These tracks seem timely with many Americana artists dabbling with original stripped down Country music this year).
“Trading Point” is pure comedy and tells a wistful story that John Prine would be proud to call his. An acoustic guitar plays along with a vocal backed by 1950’s harmonies. We learn of the singer’s ire at a brash pick up driver tailgating him at 80 mph. Anyone who can fit ‘Subaru’ into a lyric can’t be all bad.
In fact the bonhomie and humour is liberally spread on the album and I still haven’t worked out how the words ‘blow job’ and ‘cancer not in remission’ (which was made to rhyme with ‘superstition’ made its way into the sensational AOR pastiche “Superstition”. I may joke about the words but Hall & Oates may hire them after this if they hear the melody and arrangement.
With a tour and some friends in high places then this might get the exposure it deserves. There is a lot to discover on repeated listens and love here. Get it bought.