Various Artists

Delta Swamp Rock, Vol. 2: Sounds from the South at the Crossroads of Rock, Country, and Soul

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Soul Jazz may title their compilations with a matter-of-fact directness but they’re never so straightforward with their finished product. The compilers take styles as a loose suggestion, a geographical guideline instead of a strict genre, something that’s amply evident on their 2011 set Delta Swamp Rock. As Soul Jazz's first excursion into the land of classic rock & roll, Delta Swamp Rock is typically idiosyncratic, relying on early, pre-historic cuts from Lynyrd Skynyrd and album tracks by the Allman Brothers, shoehorning country outlaws Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash into the mix, and finding time for a host of non-Southerners like Cher, Linda Ronstadt, and Boz Scaggs, none of whom are represented by cuts that sound remotely swampy. Of course, these are hardly the only songs here that don’t sound like Delta swamp rock: sons of the south Big Star, a group that defied every expectation of Southern rock at the height of the style’s popularity, are featured with “13,” their most delicate song, and Bobbie Gentry is here with songs draped in Baroque strings. Naturally, there are some serious swampy grooves here -- the king of swamp rock Tony Joe White is here with his signature “Polk Salad Annie,” and Leon Russell's “Out in the Woods” pulsates with a psychedelic menace -- but Soul Jazz favors spaciness over gritty grooves. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing: they’ve dug out plenty of incidents of rednecks acting like hippies along with unearthing some fantastic forgotten roots rockers, including Link Wray's ripping “Be What You Want To,” which is enough for an entertaining alternate history. Just don’t go into this expecting it to live up to its title and you’ll be fine.

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