Bobbie Gentry: The Girl from Chickasaw County – The Complete Capitol Masters

Bobbie Gentry
The Girl from Chickasaw County: The Complete Capitol Masters
(Capitol Nashville)

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Bobbie Gentry was much more than her 1967 #1 hit “Ode to Billie Joe.” A photogenic Southern belle, Gentry was a producer and arranger who possessed a sultry singing voice and had a head for business. Today she’s best known for having walked away from music in 1982, never to be heard from again. The Girl from Chickasaw County: The Complete Capitol Masters should change that.

Gentry won three Grammys for “Billie Joe.” Despite composing two critically acclaimed concept albums, she couldn’t follow up. But one listen to Chickasaw County’s 175 tracks reveals she was no one hit wonder. Her best track, 1969’s gritty “Fancy,” the tale of a dirt-poor girl’s rise to fame in the world’s oldest profession, was deemed too risqué for radio. She covered the dreamy ballad “Hushabye Mountain,” showed her southern chanteuse side in “Hurry Tuesday Child,” tapped into Cajun life in “Mississippi Delta,” and displayed a mastery of R&B in “Somebody Like Me.”

With an 84-page book, hand-written “Billie Joe” lyrics, postcards, 75 unreleased cuts, demos that showcase Gentry’s hypnotic voice, and a bonus disc of live BBC performances, Chickasaw County sets a new precedence for box sets.

Ironically, it was Gentry’s least creative ventures — mushy duets with Glen Campbell, TV shows, Las Vegas reviews, and part-ownership of the Phoenix Suns that made her millions. Chickasaw County should rightfully put music’s version of Howard Hughes back in the spotlight where she belongs.

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