Album: Various Artists

Country Got Soul, Casual
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There's a great album to be compiled about Seventies Southern blue-eyed swamp-soul, drawing together the disparate strains of J J Cale, Dr John, the Allman Brothers, Leon Russell, Tony Joe White, Little Feat and Wet Willie - and this is almost it. Country Got Soul has been compiled by laid-back song stylist Jeb Loy Nichols, who has ignored most of these more famous names in favour of giving cult figures such as Jim Ford, Eddie Hinton and Larry Jon Wilson their due. Wilson's "Sheldon Churchyard" is a splendid opener, its voodoo swamp-funk imagery rolled out in his dark baritone over an absurdly stereo-panned quacking clavinet and squalls of slide guitar. It's a marvellous performance that establishes Wilson as the Georgian equivalent of Tony Joe White, a comparison confirmed by White's own "Did Somebody Make a Fool Out of You?", a predatory swamp-blueser with an exquisite solo of wah-wah guitar-picking. Apart from Razzy's irritating togetherness anthem, "I Hate Hate", there's barely a duff track among the 15 here, and several - Donnie Fritts' "Short End of the Stick", Jim Ford's "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me", for two - are stunning. Some betray their origins as copies of successful styles, but this oddly adds to their impact: Travis Wammack's version of "You Better Move On" has an impeccable Curtis Mayfield-style setting, Reuben Howell's version of "Funny How Time Slips Away" recalls "Midnight Train To Georgia", George Soule's "Get Involved" cross-pastiches The Staple Singers and Bill Withers, while Eddie Hinton's "Running Back To You" finds the ill-fated legend at his most Womackian.