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DUSTY RELICS


Records would no longer sanction such a gospel release. I always thought it was a fine release and as my original album got a little bit bent in the post, to say I’m glad to get this on CD is an understatement! I’ve been wondering for years why this hasn’t been re-released before now. Well, here it is folks; the great Johnny Cash at his gospel best. The very last track, The Greatest Cowboy Of Them All is a gem and a song he often featured on his stage shows, which he did re-record on the last album he cut for Mercury in the early 1990s. The rest of disc 1 is a few unreleased tracks; the concluding song, Truth deserves a mention here. Disc 2 really encompasses some aborted album releases. The opening 12 tracks were recorded for a gospel album that was never issued in 1975 and has never seen the light of day elsewhere. There is some good stuff here, including re-recordings of a couple of his old Sun gospel tracks; the backing is fine and uncluttered, so it’s a mystery why they’ve never surfaced elsewhere. Then we move onto more familiar ground to me, with lots of tracks originally meant for JOHNNY CASH GOSPEL SINGER, many of which originally saw the light of day courtesy of a CBS budget release; Word Records releasing 10 tracks on a 1986 album, BELIEVE IN HIM. I’ve always enjoyed this album but with all this wealth of unreleased material, 10 tracks on the LP seemed a bit poor. However, there were some great songs here, the best of which were the title track and the very catchy Another Wide River To Cross. The remainder of the tracks on disc 2 were unreleased, including a complete recording of Gospel Road taken from Cash’s movie filmed in Israel. All together I find this a stunning


release—the liner notes are very interesting and I really do feel you get inside the soul of this American musical legend. Perhaps we may get a decent re-issue of the whole Gospel Road project soon? David Brassington


www.johnnycash.com


Various Artists BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: WHERE COUNTRY MEETS SOUL Kent: CDKEND 375 HHHH Great country songs interpreted by some of America’s finest soul


100 Maverick


performers If you define country music as the white


man’s blues, you will surely subscribe to the theory that the two genres are natural soul-mates. Can blues men sing the whites? Can black men cut it with country? These conundrums will challenge philosophers until the end of time. No less a musical authority than ‘the Genius’—the late, much-lauded Ray Charles—certainly removed the barriers with his ground- breaking album, MODERN SOUNDS IN COUNTRY AND WESTERN MUSIC in the early 1960s. Ray brought his supremely soulful vocals to bear on country classics from Nashville idols like Hank Williams and Don Gibson, and delivered a multi-million selling LP which inspired dozens of top black artists to dip into the rich catalogue of country material, often with remarkably rewarding results. This 23-track collection brings together


some of the most celebrated country-soul couplings and features superb songs from Nashville legends, Harlan Howard, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Hank Cochran and Mickey Newbury—all tastefully handled by celebrated black vocalists. Some work better than others, but the first three cuts set the bar dauntingly high. New Orleans icon Aaron Neville pours his heart into The Grand Tour to the extent that the uninitiated listener would swear he had nailed the song were it not for the heart- rending George Jones original, which can reduce grown men to tears. Next up is a taut, gospel-flecked He’ll Have To Go from Atlantic label legend, Solomon Burke, who sounds considerably less pleased about his little darlin’ canoodling with another man than Gentleman Jim Reeves did in the familiar hit version, and believe me, you wouldn’t want to be crushed in a telephone kiosk with a bullish Burke. Third in the running order is soul stylist,


Percy Sledge who may have scored huge hits with When A Man Loves A Woman and Warm And Tender Love, but his recording of the Steve Davis country gem Take Time To Know Her is their equal in every way. Amid a superb Muscle Shoals backing track featuring wailing organ riffs and swirling saxophones, Percy wrings every last drop of pathos out of the cautionary tale of a poor boy who ignored his family’s warnings about the shortcomings of his future bride. She proved to be a wrong ‘un and poor old Percy paid the price. Vern and Rex Gosdin enjoyed a country smash with Hangin’ On,


but the wonderful Ann Peebles—rightly revered for soul classics such as I Can’t Stand The Rain and I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down—delivers a wicked whispered version aided by producer Willie Mitchell’s muddy Memphis mix. How about Tami Lynn’s smouldering take on namesake Loretta Lynn’s scorcher Wings Upon Your Horns, which regales us with the steamy saga of a dastardly devil who cruelly discards a young virgin after callously deflowering her? Strong stuff indeed. Not all these soul brothers achieve a


standard comparable with their country cousins. For instance, Bobby Sheen’s My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You is not a patch on Ray Price’s honky- tonk hit and Freddy Fender leaves the Limelights in the shade with his Tex-Mex flavoured Before The Next Teardrop Falls. Harlan Howard’s songs contain a lot of soul and Candi Staton and Joe Simon reflect the fact with warm readings of He Called Me Baby and Yours, Love respectively. The title song, Behind Closed Doors, gave the great Charlie Rich a well-deserved number one hit in charts across the globe in 1973 and Little Milton’s bluesy take on the Kenny O’Dell composition gives it a timely twist, while raunchy Millie Jackson sizzles her way through If You’re Not Back In Love By Monday before the velvet voice of Brook Benton wraps things up with a gentle She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye. Whether you’re a soul stalwart or a country champion you will find plenty to enjoy in this ace compilation. Bob Kilbey www.acerecords.com


Conway Twitty LONELY BLUE BOY Righteous PSALM 12:67


HHHI Conway’s early rock-pop … Long before Conway Twitty became a


hit-making country music machine he was a pretty successful rock’n’rolling pop star. This collects his first two albums released on MGM Records back in the late 1950s when he was justifiably referred to as the nearest vocalist to Elvis Presley. But it would be wrong to dismiss Twitty as a Presley clone; for a start he was a talented songwriter with eleven of these 24 songs being his own co-writes—usually with band member Jack Nance. They are all


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