The Second Disc

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Stax, Motown, Chess Go Country with Second Volume of “Where Country Meets Soul”

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Where Country Meets Soul 2Ace’s first volume of Where Country Meets Soul arrived late last year, proving that those two venerable genres intersect more often than one might think.  After all, many of the most enduring records in both styles revolve around the vagaries of heartbreak, so the fine folks at Ace’s Kent imprint brought together 23 tracks from artists well-versed in the torrid ways of love: Solomon Burke (“He’ll Have to Go”), Percy Sledge (“Take Time to Know Her”), Clarence Carter (“Set Me Free”), Esther Phillips (“I Saw Me”), Al Green (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”) and Candi Staton (“He Called Me Baby”) among them.

The newly-arrived Sweet Dreams: Where Country Meets Soul 2 offers another 23 examples of R&B artists bringing country-and-western staples to life.  Though some artists make a return appearance (Esther Phillips, Clarence Carter, Joe Simon), the overall line-up is even more diverse this time out.  Like the first volume, there are well-chosen songs from the catalogue of Atlantic Records: The Sweet Inspirations’ Tom Dowd-produced “But You Know I Love You,” introduced by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and Clarence Carter’s Fame-recorded version of John D. Loudermilk’s “Bad News.”  From Atlantic-distributed Stax comes Otis Redding’s dark reinvention of the 1947 standard “Tennessee Waltz” (introduced by Cowboy Copas and a pop hit for Patti Page) and Johnnie Taylor’s 1967 rendition of Merle Travis’ “Sixteen Tons,” produced by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.  Hayes himself makes an appearance from Stax’s post-Atlantic years via a 1971 Enterprise single of Hank Williams’ “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You).”

Down at Muscle Shoals, Millie Jackson cut Kenny Rogers’ “Sweet Music Man” in 1977, just one of the many smoldering southern soul performances here.  James Carr, one of R&B’s premier voices, tipped the hat to country music legend George Jones at Malaco Studios for his Goldwax recording of Jones’ “Tell Me My Lying Eyes are Wrong.”  Southern soul queen Bettye Swann is heard on her Capitol 45 of Hank Cochran’s “Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me).”

There’s more after the jump, including the full track listing with discography and order links!

The music of the Motor City makes a belated appearance on Sweet Dreams with David Ruffin’s 1976 “Statue of a Fool.”  Van McCoy produced the 1976 ballad for the Motown star on his Who I Am album.   A somewhat surprising choice for the deep-soul Temptations singer, it’s nevertheless delivered with passion.  Another wonderfully unexpected choice here is Bobby Hebb’s 1966 recording of “A Satisfied Mind.”  Hebb was a Nashville native who scored with his own pop hit “Sunny,” produced like “A Satisfied Mind” by Philadelphia’s Jerry Ross and arranged by Joe Renzetti.  “A Satisifed Mind” became Hebb’s second and final Top 40 pop hit of the decade.

“Little” Esther Phillips’ impassioned 1963 record of Eddie Miller, Robert Yount and Dub Williams’ “Release Me” gave the singer her first solo hit.  She’s heard on Sweet Dreams with the song that gives the collection its title, a Don Gibson song that reunited her with producer Lelan Rogers.  But “Release Me” isn’t wholly absent.  Esther’s version of the classic song – perhaps best-known in its rendition by Engelbert Humperdinck –was “answered” by Ted Taylor on the OKeh label as “I’ll Release You.”  Taylor even traveled to Nashville to join the same players who performed behind Little Esther, but his answer record, alas, didn’t follow her original up the charts.

Sweet Dreams: Where Country Meets Soul, Volume 2 has been splendidly remastered by Duncan Cowell, and includes a full-color 20-page booklet with track-by-track liner notes by compilation producer Tony Rounce.  It’s available now at the links below!

Various Artists, Sweet Dreams: Where Country Meets Soul, Volume Two (Kent CDKEND 395, 2013) (Amazon U.K.)

  1. But You Know I Love You – The Sweet Inspirations (Atlantic LP SD 8225, 1969)
  2. Please Help Me, I’m Falling – William Bell (Stax 128, 1962)
  3. Bad News – Clarence Carter (Atlantic PL SD 8238, 1968)
  4. Sunday Morning Coming Down – Hank Ballard (Silver Fox 23, 1970)
  5. Sometimes – The Facts of Life (Kayvette 5128, 1977)
  6. Only Mama That’ll Walk the Line – Pat Lundy (De Luxe 118, 1970)
  7. Tennessee Waltz – Otis Redding (Volt LP S 415, 1966)
  8. A Satisfied Mind – Bobby Hebb (Philips 40400, 1966)
  9. Don’t Let Me Cross Over – Ralph Lamar (Honor Brigade 6, 1970)
  10. Help Me Make It Through the Night – Joe Simon (Spring 113, 1971)
  11. I’ll Release You – Ted Taylor (Okeh 7165, 1962)
  12. Sweet Music Man – Millie Jackson (Spring 185, 1977)
  13. Tell Me My Lying Eyes Are Wrong – James Carr (Goldwax LP 47776, 1995)
  14. Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me) – Bettye Swann (Capitol 2606, 1969)
  15. Sixteen Tons – Johnnie Taylor (Stax LP S 715, 1967)
  16. I Hate You – Bobby Bland (ABC LP ABCD 895, 1975)
  17. Statue of a Fool – David Ruffin (Motown 1405, 1976)
  18. Sweet Dreams – Esther Phillips (Roulette 7049, 1969)
  19. All I Have to Offer You (Is Me) – Eddie James (King 6394, 1972)
  20. When I Stop Dreaming – Etta James (Cadet 5671, 1970)
  21. I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You) – Isaac Hayes (Enterprise 9031, 1971)
  22. Funny How Time Slips Away – Dorothy Moore (Malaco 1033, 1976)
  23. Forever’s a Long, Long Time – Orquestra Was feat. Sweet Pea Atkinson (Verve Forecast CD 533915, 1996)

Written by Joe Marchese

June 27, 2013 at 10:15

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