Various Country Got Soul Vol. 2

This second compilation by Jeb Loy Nichols continues to shed light on an unheralded era in the late ’60s and early’70s when genre lines were extremely blurry. Following the establishment of "country rock,” the next logical step was for country musicians to merge with the thriving soul scenes in Memphis and Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Many had already done so, prompting descriptions like "blue-eyed soul,” and "swamp rock,” but the CGS collections are the first to really show a consistent link among a variety of artists. Some, like Townes Van Zant, Dan Penn, and Tony Joe White, are well known; others, like Eddie Hinton and Donnie Fritts deserve to be. The grooves alone are enough to recommend this music, such as Wayne Carson’s original version of "Soul Deep,” later a hit for Alex Chilton and the Box Tops. But nearly all the songs are fascinating snapshots of a time and place totally unique in America; a final glimpse of a rural mindset before it was completely overwhelmed by corporate culture. And any album that contains Bobbie Gentry’s sultry voice — her track, "Fancy,” is a masterpiece — deserves high praise as well. (Casual)