Various Artists: Country Soul Sisters (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

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Jean Shepard: Two Whoops and a Holler
Various Artists: Country Soul Sisters (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

In a cover which bears no relevance to its contents and a 25-song decade-indifferent pastiche which roams freely between Jeannie C. Riley (the great Harper Valley PTA, of course), Lynn Anderson's white trash fantasy of Fancy (yeah, you wish!) and on to Patsy Cline's Ain't No Wheels on This Ship, this scattershot collection of assertive Southern women singers probably aims towards a feminist sensibility . . . but by being a collection of one-shots does the individual artists a disservice and perhaps implies a sisterhood which didn't exactly exist in the musical realm.

However, taken together, we see some broad themes emerge -- one being women can stand on their own, although maybe it helps to have  a man give them a leg up . . . although mostly the men are useless or necessary. But as a socio-political agenda this doesn't work.

Tammy Wynette's sensual welcome for an absent trucker-lover on Tonight My Baby's Coming Home hardly sits alongside its follow-up which is Jean Shepard's pre-feminist statement of self-determination on Satisfied Mind, let alone having Nancy Sinatra come in with her ruthlessly materialistically/acquisitive but also emotionally-destroyed sentiment of Get While The Gettin's Good.

Jeez, gals. Mixed messages or whuuut?

Many of these are very fine, important even, songs in their own right (actually very good if not great songs) but in this context it's like feminism, countrywomen neediness or assertion has been sprayed at a canvas like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Mashed together are social welfare daddies, women with a sexual ache for their distant lover, brutal male politics and beautiful feminist songs (the astonishing Southern Ferry Lane by Sammi Smith) which make very uncomfortable bedfellows.

So an incoherent collection . . . but what a fascinating compilation of dip'n'dive, sample'n'see songs.

Taste this with slow discretion and look for no over-arching agenda . . . and it will appear like a note left on the dining room table saying, "Honey-chile', I'm walking".

Or staying. 

Scattery, but a good 'un . . . Y'all.?

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Mick C - Oct 29, 2012

Nice to hear the original again - there was a later version with inferior guitar licks!

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