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Sumpin Funky Going On: “Country Funk II” Features Willie, Dolly, Bobby, Jackie, Kenny and More

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Country Funk 2Almost two years ago, we reported on Light in the Attic’s Country Funk, an anthology celebrating the hybrid genre of the title.  Back then, LITA described country funk as an “inherently defiant genre” encompassing “the elation of gospel with the sexual thrust of the blues, country hoedown harmony with inner city grit.  It is alternately playful and melancholic, slow jammin’ and booty shakin’.  It is both studio slick and barroom raw.”  Well, if the 16 nuggets on that 2012 release weren’t enough for you, the label has returned to the well with another 17 slabs of soulful country-and-western tunes with Country Funk II.  Whereas the first volume spanned the period 1969-1975, this second installment takes in tracks from 1967 to 1974.

One familiar name has returned for Volume II.  It’s Bob, formerly known as Bobby, Darin, with another track from his Bob Dylan-inspired Commitment album of 1969.  “Me and Mr. Hohner” is about as far-removed from “Mack the Knife” as one can get, but Darin filled the role of hippie-folkie troubadour with the same conviction he had brought to the role of tuxedo-clad showman.  The luminous Jackie DeShannon also crossed over from the world of pop.  The “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” and “What the World Needs Now” artist was an early lady of the canyon with her 1969 LP Laurel Canyon, from which Country Funk II has derived her gritty cover of The Band’s immortal “The Weight.”

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton famously teamed up in 1983 for the chart-topping single “Islands in the Stream,” but both artists were by then well-versed in blurring genre lines – so it’s no surprise to see them here.  Rogers is heard with his band The First Edition, best-known for their psychedelic “Just Dropped In,” on the 1971 single “Tulsa Turnaround.”  Parton’s contribution is “Getting Happy” from her still-not-on-CD 1974 album Love is Like a Butterfly.  Willie Nelson had the same deft ability to traverse the worlds of pop and country as Parton and Rogers, and he shows up here with “Shotgun Willie,” the title track of his 1973 Atlantic Records outlaw-country breakthrough album.

The Byrds’ Gene Clark helped that seminal folk-rock band incorporate elements of country, bluegrass and psychedelia into their own music, and in 1968, he teamed up with banjo great Doug Dillard to form Dillard and Clark.  The duo produced two albums for A&M including 1969’s Through the Morning, Through the Night, from which their reinvention of Lennon and McCartney’s “Don’t Let Me Down” is reprised here.  Another duo, Larry Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, created an unusual fusion in 1967 when they teamed with psych-rockers The Kaleidoscope for the Okeh single “Nobody.”  The song was covered by Three Dog Night for that band’s debut album; the original recording is presented on Country Funk II.  Three Dog Night scored a No. 1 hit with “Joy to the World” from the pen of Hoyt Axton; the Oklahoma-born songwriter’s “California Women” from his Joy to the World album appears here.

We have more details – plus the full track listing with discography and order links – after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 23, 2014 at 13:37

Vinyl Watch: Kenny Rogers’ “Gambler” Gets 180-Gram Reissue, Duran Duran Single Announced for Record Store Day

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Vinyl heads rejoice! Capitol recently announced a pair of upcoming vinyl titles – one especially for Record Store Day – from two wildly different artists.

With a thumping drum line that sounded like Phil Spector gone New Wave and one of lead vocalist Simon Le Bon’s wittiest lyrics, it’s no surprise “Is There Something I Should Know?” became Duran Duran’s very first chart-topping single in their native England. Released as a non-LP cut in 1983 toward the height of Duran-mania, “Is There Something I Should Know” is a jewel of the Duran catalogue, three decades on. (It was no slouch in the States, either, peaking within Billboard‘s Top 5 30 summers ago. For American audiences, the song was an admittedly incongruous bonus track on the Stateside release of the band’s 1981 self-titled debut.)

Duran RSDFor the 30th anniversary of the single, EMI will issue for Record Store Day (April 20 of this year) a faithful 7″ vinyl recreation of the original single (EMI 5371/Capitol 8551 (U.S.)) featuring non-LP instrumental B-side “Faith in This Colour.” (Two mixes of “Faith” exist; the original 7″ used an “alternate slow mix” that does not, unlike the version heard on the 12″ single, use sampled dialogue and effects from Star Wars. The band’s Twitter account confirms the 12″ “fast” version will be the B-side.) As a special twist for collectors, this single will be pressed on blue vinyl.

After the jump, Kenny Rogers dispenses some of the most important wisdom of his career on 180-gram vinyl.

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Written by Mike Duquette

February 14, 2013 at 14:16