Ode to Billie Joe (album)

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Ode to Billie Joe
Odetobillyjoe.jpg
Studio album by Bobbie Gentry
Released August 21, 1967
Recorded February - July 26, 1967
Hollywood, CA
Genre Country
Length 30:18
Label Capitol
Producer Kelly Gordon
Bobbie Gentry chronology
Ode to Billie Joe
(1967)
The Delta Sweete
(1968)The Delta Sweete1968
Singles from Ode to Billie Joe
  1. "Ode to Billie Joe"
    Released: July 1967[1]
  2. "I Saw an Angel Die"
    Released: September 1967[2]
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[3]

Ode to Billie Joe is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry. It was released on August 21, 1967, by Capitol Records.

In 2007, the album was made available for digital download.

In 2008, Australian label Raven Records released the album on CD, paired with 1969’s Touch 'Em with Love.

Background[edit]

Despite performing regularly with her mother in the mid-60s with the Hawaiian themed troupe she formed called the International Four, Gentry’s sole ambition initially was to write songs to sell to other artists, telling the Washington Post that she only sang on the recording of "Ode to Billie Joe" she took to Capitol because it was cheaper than hiring a professional. Also delivered to Capitol was the track "Mississippi Delta", and it was this recording, rather than "Ode to Billie Joe", that initially got her signed. In context, the track is more obviously commercial and reflective of what was on the charts in 1967.

Once signed to Capitol, staff producer Kelly Gordon was given "Ode to Billie Joe" as his first full length production job for the label.

Both of Bobbie’s "demo" tracks became the album masters; the purchased recording of "Mississippi Delta" was the version issued, but "Ode to Billie Joe" had a string arrangement by Jimmie Haskell dubbed onto the original recording at Capitol. It was the day after the string session that Capitol’s A&R team decided definitively that "Ode to Billie Joe" would be the A-side.

The rest of the album was hurriedly assembled from a selection of 12 songs Gentry had already recorded guitar and vocal tracks for, with overdubs being completed in a matter of days. The result was a unique combination of blues, folk and jazz elements, that furthered Gentry’s recollections of her homeland, and felt more like a concept album than a hastily assembled collection of songs. Capitol pre-ordered 500,000 copies – the largest pressing of a debut album in Capitol's history at that point. The album was in stores less than a month after it was completed.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

In the issue dated September 2, 1967, Billbaord magazine's review said, "This album, based on the phenomenal single, "Ode to Billie Joe", has got to be one of the top albums of the year. Bobbie proves to be much more than a flash in the pan. Each of her emotional ballads are standouts — especially the haunting "Hurry Tuesday Child". And Miss Gentry's uptempo jazz waltz, "Papa, Won't You Take Me to Town with You", could step out as a single."[5] Reviewing for AllMusic, critic Richie Unterberger wrote of the album, "Her vocals are poised and husky throughout the record, on which she was definitely on the right track — one that she was quickly diverted from, into more MOR-oriented sounds."[6]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album peaked at No. 1 on the US Billboard Pop Albums chart. It was the only album to displace the BeatlesSgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band from its 15-week reign at the top of the chart. It also peaked at No. 1 on the US Billboard Country Albums chart and at No. 5 on the US Billboard Black Albums chart.

The albums first single, "Ode to Billie Joe", peaked at No. 1 on the US Billboard Pop Singles chart, No. 7 on the US Billboard Easy Listening chart, No. 8 on the US Billboard Black Singles chart, and No. 17 on the US Billboard Country Singles chart. The single also saw international success, peaking at No. 1 in Canada on RPM's Top Singles chart, No. 6 on Australia's Kent Music Report Singles Chart, and No. 13 on the UK Singles Chart.

The album's second single, "I Saw an Angel Die", failed to chart.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Bobbie Gentry, except as noted.

Side one
No. Title Recording date Length
1. "Mississippi Delta" February 1967 3:05
2. "I Saw an Angel Die" July 26, 1967 2:56
3. "Chickasaw Country Child" May 24, 1967 2:45
4. "Sunday Best" July 26, 1967 2:50
5. "Niki Hoeky" (Jim Ford, Lolly Vegas, Pat Vegas) July 26, 1967 2:30
Side two
No. Title Recording date Length
1. "Papa, Won't You Take Me to Town with You?" July 26, 1967 2:30
2. "Bugs" May 24, 1967 2:05
3. "Hurry, Tuesday Child" July 26, 1967 3:52
4. "Lazy Willie" May 24, 1967 2:36
5. "Ode to Billie Joe" March 1967 4:15

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from album liner notes.

Chart positions[edit]

Album

Year Chart Chart position
1967 US Black Albums (Billboard)[7] 5
US Country Albums (Billboard)[8] 1
US Pop Albums (Billboard)[9] 1

Singles

Year Single Chart Chart position
1967 "Ode to Billie Joe" Australia (Kent Music Report) 6
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 1
UK Singles Chart (OCC)[10] 13
US Easy Listening (Billboard)[11] 7
US Black Singles (Billboard)[12] 8
US Country Singles (Billboard)[13] 17
US Pop Singles (Billboard)[14] 1

Accolades[edit]

10th Annual Grammy Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result[15]
1968 Herself Best New Artist Won
"Ode to Billie Joe" Record of the Year Nominated
Song of the Year Nominated
Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals Won
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Won
Best Contemporary Female Solo Vocal Performance Won
Best Contemporary Single Nominated
Ode to Billie Joe Album of the Year Nominated
Best Contemporary Album Nominated
Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bobbie Gentry - Ode To Billie Joe". Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  2. ^ "Bobbie Gentry - I Saw An Angel Die". Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  3. ^ Allmusic review
  4. ^ "Ode To Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry". bobbiegentry.org.uk. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  5. ^ "Billboard Magazine - September 2, 1967" (PDF). American Radio History. Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  6. ^ "Ode to Billie Joe - Bobbie Gentry | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  7. ^ "Bobbie Gentry Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  8. ^ "Bobbie Gentry Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  9. ^ "Bobbie Gentry Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  10. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 225. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  11. ^ "Bobbie Gentry Chart History". Billboard. Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 7 June 2018. 
  12. ^ "Bobbie Gentry Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  13. ^ "Bobbie Gentry Chart History". Billboard. Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 7 June 2018. 
  14. ^ "Bobbie Gentry Chart History". Billboard. Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 7 June 2018. 
  15. ^ "10th Annual GRAMMY Awards". GRAMMY.com. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles
Billboard 200 number-one album
October 14–27, 1967
Succeeded by
Diana Ross and The Supremes Greatest Hits
by The Supremes