Music Review: Joe South’s ‘A Look Inside’

Joe South's A Look Inside

Joe South, best known for “Games People Play” and “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” has turned his psychological lyricism inward. The result is an album as personal as John Lennon’s primal scream LP or Joni Mitchell’s For the Roses. Many of the songs focus on South’s drug problems and, in “Coming Down All Alone,” he makes his point nearly as directly as Lou Reed did in “Heroin”: “There’s no kind of bummer / that a dime bag couldn’t cure,” intones South, but he adds, “Ain’t it bad coming down all alone.”

Another recurring theme is the singer’s distaste for aspects of his success: “It makes no difference where I go to hide away,” he sings at one point. “You know, somebody whispers, ‘He recorded “Games People Play”‘/ . . . Then I’m on stage again.” There are no brilliant melodies on A Look Inside and, at times, the lyrics seem cluttered at the expense of the music. Still, the album’s insights make it worthy of attention and it holds the promise of more and better from the man who did, indeed, write “Games People Play.”

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