Various Artists Country Funk II: 1967-1974

Various ArtistsCountry Funk II: 1967-1974
The first Country Funk: 1969-1975 came out on noted reissue label Light In The Attic in 2012, and featured such artists as Bobby Charles, Tony Joe White, Mac Davis and Bobby Gentry. Response was strong enough to justify a sequel, and it's a damn entertaining one. This ain't funk in the George Clinton/James Brown sense, but the country music of this fertile period did incorporate soul, r 'n b and blues styles, to winning effect (unlike today's country, which draws on banal elements of rock and pop). This second edition actually includes some bigger names than the first, including Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, Dolly Parton and JJ Cale nestling alongside cult heroes like Townes Van Zandt and Hoyt Axton.

Billy Swan's slow and mellow version of Elvis hit "Don't Be Cruel" kicks things off nicely, and there's little filler amongst the 17 cuts. There's even CanCon in the form of Great Speckled Bird gem (and Ian Tyson composition) "Long Long Time To Get Old" and Jackie DeShannon's version of "The Weight," though the latter is a lesser moment here. Highlights include Bob Darin's "Me And Mr. Hohner" (yep, crooner Bobby went country), Willie's "Shotgun Willie," Larry Williams & Johnny Watson's "Nobody," Jim Ford's swamp funky "Rising Sign" and the sweet harmonizing of Dillard & Clark on Beatles tune "Don't Let Me Down." The overall vibe of the collection is likely to put a smile on your face (hell, even Townes sounds a mite less melancholy, thanks to the spirited accompaniment), making it a perfect fit for your next beer 'n bourbon patio party. If this one grabs you, look out for the equally fine 2002/2004 compilations Country Got Soul Vol. 1 and 2, featuring many of the same artists. (Light In The Attic)