Bobbie Gentry never envisaged herself as a singer, originally intending to write for other artists. But by the end of her career, she had written and arranged numerous songs, been a huge TV personality, designed her own costumes and sets, choreographed performances, managed her own musical output and shows, and painted the portraits used for the covers of Fancy and Patchwork.
This new box set collects all seven of Gentry’s studio albums from her period recording for Capitol (1967 to 1971) — among them a disc of duos with Glen Campbell that features two of her three minor hits. Also here are more than 75 previously unreleased outtakes, demos, and other rarities, such as 26 numbers recorded live at the BBC, where Gentry had her own show for several years. All together, there are 177 well-remastered tracks on eight discs, including more than 80 mostly excellent originals (a few written with collaborators). It comes with a generously illustrated, 84-page hardcover book that includes a chapter about each of the eight discs. There’s also a set of postcards and a copy of an early draft of Gentry’s handwritten lyrics for “Ode to Billie Joe.”
Having not performed or recorded since 1982, we are lucky to now have a phenomenal back catalogue thanks to The Girl From Chickasaw County. Gentry had one of the most magical singing voices around which shines once again, alongside a wealth of previously unreleased material. Gentry’s reputation as a live performer can be gleaned on each and every one of the songs collected here.