The Country Soul Revue – Testifying

Over the last year, the London based label, Casual Records released two compilations titled Country Got Soul. Both volumes were highly acclaimed [Rough Trade Shops: Compilation of the Year and Top Ten Compilations: MOJO] and were filled with country crooners singing their versions of Black Soul music. On the heels of Country Got Soul Volumes 1 & 2 comes The Country Soul Revue, another compilation album filled with tales of despair, fighting, friendship, heartbreak and the damage done.

This album sees the likes of Tony Joe White, Larry Jon Wilson, Donnie Fritts, Bonnie Bramlett, Billy Swan and George Soule lay down a collection of new tracks, backed by such legendary figures as Clayton Ivy on piano and organ, David Hood on bass, Spooner Oldham on Wurlitzer and Reggie Young on electric guitar as well as members of the Muscle Shoals and Memphis Horns. These are the real old timers; the white southerners steeped in soul from the ‘60’s and ‘70’s – composers of classics such as Rainy Night In Georgia, I’m Your Puppet and Do Right Woman – coming together to relive old memories and record over a 10-day period. And not to forget the producer standing in the shadows, Dan Penn who, in the past, has lured in the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan down to his sleepy corner of north west Alabama to record at the famous Muscle Shoals studios.

The songs flip from the country ballad Who You Gonna Hoo-Doo Now to the soul dripped Its Over sung by the big voice of George Soule with the background purr of the Memphis Horns soothing George’s broken heart. This may even be my pick of the bunch running close to Larry Jon’s Sapelo; if not for its compelling tale of the rich but troubled past of the island Sapelo inhabited by descendants of slaves who made the brutal Middle Passage from Africa. And there is Country music, of course, at its best with Larry Jon’s Friday Night Fight and his deep voice that sounds like a truck braking as it pulls up to a lonely open road diner.

This album comes with some great packaging and will especially please those fans wishing to complete their Country Soul set. The liner notes are filled with anecdotes from collaborators and artists as well as photos from the recording session, pictures of old stamps, confederate notes and other [bubble gum wrappers!!] Southern memorabilia. The album cover is bound book-style and will sit comfortably amongst your Dolly Parton, De La Soul and James Brown collection.