Various Artists

Country Meets Soul

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AllMusic Review by

Country Meets Soul is certainly not the first collection to explore the connections between the music of white Nashville and black Memphis, but it's easily one of the best. It helps that the 19 tracks are drawn exclusively from the rich vaults of Hi Records -- perhaps no artist of his era better married soul and country than Hi's biggest superstar Al Green, and he's the disc's bedrock, contributing five tracks, including sterling renditions of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away." The proverbial yin to Green's yang is country crooner Charlie Rich, who contributes a remarkably soulful rendition of the Sam & Dave classic "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby." And so the set goes, alternating musical and racial backgrounds to underscore the negligible differences between them. What's so appealing about these songs is how seamlessly the two musical styles and traditions fuse together, and while it's easy and often fair to criticize the creative and political conservatism of music culture on both sides of the color line, it makes the mutations that much more amazing when they do occur.

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