Country Funk Volume II – 1967-1974
Light In The Attic
The first volume – one of Light In The Attic’s masterstrokes in the compiling/reissuing game – was the introduction of a genre that might have seemed to some like a Buzzfeed–styled click-bait headline; a fake genre you just had to hear – even if you were disappointed. I doubt anyone could have walked away from that one disappointed, for here was a selection of material that was somehow innately funky and yet ornately country (still). A head-scratcher if you weren’t already in the know, a revelation if you’d been drinking at this trough before and either way one of the best comps you could hope to have.
For Volume II – a welcome sequel – there are some bigger names, a few obvious heroes – Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers – and even with some of the kings and queens of country music the song-selections here reveal a funky side. Dolly’s Gettin’ Happy is remarkable when you consider it arrived on an album that followed swiftly on the heels of here breakthrough material like Jolene and I Will Always Love You. It’s as if Ronnie Tutt is peddling that groove. Shotgun Willie is a bit of Nelson nonsense – wonderful of course. And Kenny – in his First Edition daze – dusts off a fun drug story for Tulsa Turnaround. Speaking of Tulsa we have J.J. Cale’s Cajun Moon here – perhaps, previously you never heard that quite as either funky or country, so it’s that special skill of a good compilation that bends songs to suit, both flavours burst from the song here when bookended by Jim Ford’s Rising Sign and Donnie Fritts’ Sumpin’ Funky Going On.
Gene Clark and Doug Dillard offer one of the best ever Beatles covers with Don’t Let Me Down, and Billy Swan’s opening cover version of Don’t Be Cruel gets this off to a cool-cruising head-nodding start.
Townes Van Zandt, Great Speckled Bird, Jackie DeShannon – yes it doesn’t quite have the obscurities and lesser knowns that the first one did, but it’s a fun and fantastic ride nonetheless. It opens the series up too, shows that there’s (potentially) more to come. I’d stay on for another volume after this. But so much to love here – Thomas Jefferson Kaye’s Collection Box is my new favourite. And that’s just for starters. I know I’ll be replacing that with others from this set – Bill Wilson’s Pay Day Give Away, Willis Alan Ramsey’s Northeast Texas Women, Dolly, Kenny, Willie…an easy sell to the already converted, and so much warmth here. It feels good. Real good!