Various Artists

More Dirty Laundry: The Soul of Black Country, Vol. 2

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That sexy sepia-toned cover on More Dirty Laundry is so alluring it just might seduce you into thinking that this second set of soul-country from German label Trikont is filled with classic forgotten sides from the '60s and '70s, an impression certainly bolstered by the list of names on the back cover: Johnny Adams, Joe Tex, Arthur Alexander, Ike & Tina Turner, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Clyde McPhatter, Ruth Brown, Bobby Womack, and James Brown all pop up among the 24 tracks here. There is some prime period soul here, but there are just as many high-gloss tunes from the late '70s and '80s as there are thick grooves from the '60s or smooth sounds from the early '70s. Such a mingling of eras only helps muddle further a compilation that often seems to stray very far from the concept, spending as much time with generic soul as with tunes that blur Southern borders (and apart from Vicki Vann's recent "You Must Think My Heart Has Swinging Doors" and Stoney Edwards' vintage "Honky Tonk Heaven," there is no straight-up country here). As most of this music is pretty good, it's easy to excuse this jumble even when it strays into Sammy Davis, Jr.'s smarmy reading of "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)" or, worse, Andre Williams' flat-out hammy rendition of "Pardon Me (I've Got Someone to Kill)," and this does shine a spotlight on many terrific records that usually get overlooked: Clarence "Frogman" Henry's "I Told My Pillow," whose easy roll is unmistakably from the Crescent City, not the Music City; Bobby Womack's version of Jim Ford's "Point of No Return" (miscredited to Jim White in the notes); Joe Tex's slinky spin on "King of the Road"; O.C. Smith's funky "The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp"; Margie Joseph turning Dolly Parton's "Touch Your Woman" into feminist soul; a jumping "I'm Movin' On" by Clyde McPhatter; and most especially, Junior Parker's slow, soulful strut on Ernest Tubb's "Walkin' the Floor Over You," which is the most imaginative reinvention here. These are the reasons to pick up this disc...well, that and the cover, of course.

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