Various Artists

Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Hillbilly Music: 1970

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If the music on the 1970 volume of Bear Family's superlative ongoing Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Hillbilly Music series isn't as wild and adventurous as that on 1969's, chalk it up to the record industry assimilating the shifting fashions of the time. Nothing here sounds as wild as the singles on the 1969 volume, but everything here still feels modern: Dolly Parton's "Joshua" is nearly as lean and ornery as Waylon Jennings' "The Taker," Johnny Cash's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" is a finely realized hangover ode that never would've been written three years prior, Roy Clark's novelty "Thank God and Greyhound" pops with tacky vitality. Elsewhere, there is sinewy Merle Haggard ("The Fightin Side of Me"), robust Jerry Lee Lewis ("There Must Be More to Love Than This," "Once More with Feeling"), AM crossovers from Lynn Anderson ("Rose Garden") and Sammi Smith ("Help Me Make It Through the Night"), pure Nashville schmaltz symphonies from George Jones ("A Good Year for the Roses") and Ray Price ("For the Good Times"), crackling country-rock from Jerry Reed ("Amos Moses"), then the slightest hints of country-rock (Flying Burrito Brothers' "Wild Horses," which doesn't feel of piece with the rest here), and outlaw country (Billy Joe Shaver's "Chicken on the Ground"). All these loose ends combine into one singular sound that is the dawn of a new decade, one where all the progressive country, psychedelia, Bakersfield sound, and Nashville polish combine into a new mainstream, and Dim Lights 1970 winds up fascinating for how it documents that shift.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:27
2 2:54
3 2:26
4 2:54
5 2:39
6 2:31
7 2:40
8 3:01
9 3:22
10 3:09
11 3:17
12 2:21
13 2:35
14 3:03
15 6:23
16 2:14
17 3:50
19 3:04
20 2:22
21 3:00
22 2:44
23 2:40
24 4:08
25 2:50
26 3:12
27 3:34
28 3:49
blue highlight denotes track pick