Album: Various Artists

Dirty Laundry, TRIKONT
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The Independent Culture

Nowadays, the notion of country music as "the white man's blues" is fairly well-established. But, Ray Charles apart, country's influence on soul music remains one of black music's guilty secrets, a crossover even less welcome (on both sides of the racial divide) when Bobby Womack released BW Goes C&W in the mid-1970s than it had been when Charles made his more successful foray into the genre over a decade earlier. But as this well-researched Trikont anthology shows, this form of musical miscegenation was happening all over the South throughout the 1960s and 1970s. It ranges from country standards with most of the cheese grated off (Womack's "Bouquet of Roses", Candi Staton's "Stand By Your Man", James & Bobby Purify's "Sixteen Tons", James Brown's "Your Cheating Heart") to brilliant renegades such as Arthur Alexander, Roscoe Shelton and Curtis Mayfield, whose eco-protest anthem "Dirty Laundry" contributed to his mid-1980s career revival. Mostly, though, it features black singers finding common ground with country writers on cheatin' songs and love plaints, notably Joe Simon's version of "Chokin' Kind", Solomon Burke's lengthy "I Can't Stop Loving You", and a terrific version of "You Are My Sunshine" by Earl Gaines.

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