Various Artists - Country Got Soul 2

One of the most highly acclaimed compilations of 2003 was "Country Got Soul", a collection of tracks by white artists who have made contributions to 'Southern Soul' music. Southern Soul is soul music indigenous to the Southern States of America, please note the British term 'Northern Soul' does not mean music from the Northern part of the USA but merely soul music that was appreciated in the north of England.

Of the fifteen tracks on this second volume nine artists make a return appearance. Two of the very best tracks comes from Jim Ford and Eddie Hinton. Ford's "Harlan County" is taken from his only album. To quote the CD booklet  "Harlan County" is the story of escaping a place where a "mans tired of living when he's twenty" because the only employment is in the coal mine. The song moves along at breakneck speed with funky guitar and a great brass section. Originally from New Orleans, Ford moved to California in the mid sixties where he began a songwriting partnership with Bobby Womack which produced one of Womack's most popular songs, "Harry Hippie". Eddie Hinton also has connections, not only with Bobby Womack, but also Percy Sledge and Aretha Franklin, who said he was one of her favourite people. Hinton has a sandpaper voice that make Rod Stewart sound like Gareth Gates. Hinton's "It Can't Be Me" was recorded with just his guitar in 1980 with his buddies from the famed Muscle Shoals Studio added on in 1999.

Bonnie Bramlett wo happened to be the first white singer of Ike & Tina Turners Ikettes is featured on "Your Kind Of Kindness", an anti-racist song that was quite bold for the early seventies. The song is one of the funkiest of the collection and fans of Joss Stone would see there is nothing new in a young white girl singing so soulfully. The name Sandra Rhodes will not mean a lot of the vast majority of people, but she has been heard by millions as on third of Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes providing backing vocals on Al Greens many hits of the seventies. Her cover version of James Carr's "Sowed Love And Reaped The Heartache" not only features Sandra's soulful voice, but also her great guitar playing. The third female featured is perhaps the best known artist on the album, Bobbie Gentry who had a huge hit in the late sixties with "Ode To Billie Joe". Her fantastic story song "Fancy" should encourage people to buy the excellent recent compilation on her which proves she was more than just a one hit wonder.

The legendary Donn Penn along with ex Green On Red frontman Chuck Prophet provide the albums most recent track "Heavy Duty, recorded in 2003. Tony Joe White and the late Townes Van Zant both prove with their contributions that it is possible to play acoustic guitars and be funky and soulful.

If you like Sixties Southern Soul or American Roots music, then this is a "must have" compilation.

Derek McCann

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