Various Artists

Yee-Haw!: The Other Side of Country

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Now here's an odd one: a compilation of very obscure country tunes from across America recorded between 1968-1975. Alt-country indeed. Seriously, the opening track, "Never Trust a Woman," from 1969 -- by a band called Spur of Moment who wished they were the Byrds circa the Gram Parsons era -- has lines in the refrains such as: "Never trust a woman with your dope/Don't ever Trust a woman with your hash/Don't ever trust a woman with your speed." Pedal steel guitars duel with four-part harmonies and gutbucket bass -- weird. The next cut, "Tawney," one from Illinois semi-legend Arlie Neaville, comes right out of the 1966-1970 period of Roy Orbison -- beautiful folky melodies woven with horns, jangling guitars, and Neaville's stunningly beautiful voice, full of deep emotion and wild abandon. Already the many-sided personality of this compilation is splitting at the seams. But it gets even more surreal with two tracks from Peter Grudizen's Unicorn album -- folky and freaky with psychedelic effects. The titles? "White Trash Hillbilly Trick" and "The Lost World." Palmer Rocky checks in with an apocalyptic folk song worthy of Jandek or Bonnie "Prince" Billy. A lot of this is more on the folk side of country, but the songwriting is never less than interesting and sometimes, as in the case of William C. Beeley's "Galivanter" and Neaville's "Today Was the Time" (written by Jim Cuomo), it is downright astonishing. And with the exception of "Don't Ever Trust a Woman" and Grudizen's cuts -- and perhaps "Kill the Pig" by Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck, which is nothing more than a psych workout disguised as country music -- this is serious, very fine, and worthy of repeated listening. Germany's Normal label does it again.

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