The Delta Suite
A Great Lost Album Re-Visited and Brought Right Up To Date.
While I consider myself a Bobbie Gentry fan, in line with 99% of other like minded people; that means I own a couple of copies of her Greatest Hits.
Which makes listening to a whole album of ‘none singles’ a bit of a challenge …….. but one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
The Delta Suite is a bit of an oddity in many ways; first of all it was recorded and released less than a year after Bobbie’s debut album ‘broke the charts’; it’s a ‘concept album’ and ain’t nothing like what came before it; and bare little resemblance to much anything I own from her peers around that same period.
The songs are all still; definitively Bobbie Gentry; but here played in the correct order tell a ‘story’ about the people that surround young Ms. Gentry; but instead of ‘Good Ole Boy’ Country melodies; the arrangements here are more orchestral and often full of ‘sweeping strings’ instead of a pedal-steel or fiddle.
I hope so.
The first of the two albums are the new Stereo re-mixes; and starts with Okolona River Bottom Band; and once you get past the ‘new sound’ and the demonic cackle from Shorty Rogers that comes and goes like Summer lightning; Bobbie’s sultry voice carries you into strange new paths; albeit in well charted territory; and it sets the cinematic mood for what is to follow.
Because you are expected to sit back and listen to Bobbie’s ‘story’ it’s not that easy to select individual songs; as very few, if any actually sound like prospective singles ………. but they invariably sound wonderful in this context; moving said story along.
Now I’ve got my head around this album; this version of THE DELTA SWEETE and DUSTY IN MEMPHIS; to my befuddled mind sound like peas from the same pod.
None more so than Morning Glory, Refractio and the Seventh Son; which have all remarkably stood the test of time, while at the time must have left the Label ‘suits’ tearing their hair out!
On the re-mixed Album #1 a couple of songs do stand out; none more so than Louisiana Man which is the most ‘traditional’ song here; and the harmonica laced Big Boss Man, too, which I may actually have heard before ……. but that may be my mind playing tricks on me.
While the Classic Tobacco Road makes an appearance of course (the original mono version is exceptional) my Favourite Track though; and this comes back to the strength of the songwriting as much as it does Bobbie Gentry’s silky smooth and emotion drenched voice; is Mississippi Delta (Alternate version) which rocks like shrimp boat in a storm and leaves you thinking about all of the current crop of Alt. Country poppettes who try their darnedest to sound like this; but miss the target that Bobbie Gentry keeps hitting with consummate ease.
I’m not sure why the original MONO (DEMO) versions are included as a second album; as it’s the new versions that you are intended to buy; but the originals are so very different, yet ever more beautiful and intricate in their simple ragged and slightly tarnished glory it’s more than likely that this will be what you are listening to in 10 years time.
Released July 31st 2020