Various Artists

Country Funk II: 1967-1974

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Country funk isn't a real genre, except retrospectively, being one of those kinds of sounds you can't really explain but you sure know it when you hear it. That's the road map compiler Zach Cowie used for the first volume in this series, and it's the same one he uses here for the second volume. Yeah, it's country, but it's extra greasy, with pronounced backbeats, and it's, well, funky somehow. You know it when you hear it. Like the first volume, this one is full of neat little surprises, including the opening track, Billy Swan's eerie, echoing chill take on "Don't Be Cruel" (which has a funky break to die for), Townes Van Zandt's garage band-backed "Hunger Child Blues," Willie Nelson's languid "Shotgun Willie," Dillard & Clark's beautiful version of the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down," and Dolly Parton's 1974 country disco shuffle "Getting Happy," released, amazingly enough, the same year as "Jolene," and two songs could never have been more different in approach. Country funk, no matter how one defines it, might not be a real musical style per se, but as presented here, and in the first volume of this series, it emerges as a reminder that no musical style stands in isolation. Music is all about cross-pollination. Country and funk were always going to meet. They did. They have. You'll know it when you hear it.

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