COLD COLD HEART-WHEN COUNTRY MEETS SOUL VOLUME 3.

COLD COLD HEART-WHEN COUNTRY MEETS SOUL VOLUME 3.

For the past fifty years, country music has influenced soul music, and soul singers. Many soul singers grew up listening to soul music. This would later influence and help shape their careers. Later, when their careers began, many soul singers would pay homage to how country music influenced their early lives. To understand this, you’ve got to go back to the fifties and early sixties. 

Many soul singers, especially Southern Soul singers, grew up in the southern states. They listened so to a soundtrack of country music coming out of Nashville, Memphis and Muscle Shoals on the local radio stations. Back then, country music was one of the most popular genres.

Artists like Hank Williams, George Jones, Webb Pierce, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard and Patsy Cline some of the biggest names in country music. Each of singers were influencing the next generation, including a new generation of soul singers. One of the biggest influence was Ray Charles.

There is no doubt, Ray Charles deserves to be described as a musical pioneer. That was the case from when he released his 1962 album Modern Sounds In Country and Western Volumes 1 and 2 on ABC-Paramount. These albums struck a chord, reaching numbers one and two in the US Billboard 200 Charts. After that, the crossover between country and soul became much more popular during the sixties and seventies. Since then, record companies have often released compilations of how country music influenced soul music. This includes Kent Soul, a subsidiary of Ace Records. Recently Kent Soul released Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3.

Just like the two previous volumes in the Where Country Meets Soul series, the release of Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3 has been eagerly awaited. No wonder. The track listing reads like a list of the great and good of soul music. There’s contributions from Percy Sledge, Solomon Burke, The Temptations, Arthur Alexander, The Supremes and Bobby Bland. Then there’s hidden gems.

The hidden gems include tracks from some of soul music’s best kept secrets. This includes from soul sisters Margie Joseph, Bettye Swann and Esther Phillips. Johnny Adams and Ralph “Soul” Jackson contribute two tracks that epitomise the country soul sound. However, one of the most intriguing tracks is George Benson’s 1969 My Woman’s Good To Me. It’s proof that George Benson found his voice way before the mid-seventies. Good To Me is just one of twenty-four tracks Tony Rounce has chosen for the latest instalment in the Where Country Meets Soul series, Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3. Tony has chosen well. You’ll realise that, when I pick the highlights of Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3.

Percy Sledge’s True Love Travels On A Gravel Road opens Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3. It was released as a single  on Atlantic Records in 1969. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road was taken from Percy’s fifth album, My Special Prayer. It’s one of My Special Prayer’s highlights. A fusion of country, soul and gospel tinged harmonies, hope, beauty and melancholia are omnipresent on True Love Travels On A Gravel Road.

Before signing to Atlantic Records in 1972, Mississippi born Margie Joseph was signed to Okeh and Volt Records. She had enjoyed several minor hit singles and released two albums. After Margie covered Stop In The Name Of Love, which give her the biggest hit of her career, this brought her to the attention of Atlantic Records. They signed Margie in 1972. Her Atlantic debut was Touch Your Woman. It was written by Dolly Parton, and the song had already given her a top ten single. Arif Mardin decided Touch Your Woman was the perfect song for Margie’s Atlantic debut. The song is given a soulful makeover. In Margie’s hands, it becomes slow, sultry and sensuous. Sadly, if failed to chart. However, it wasn’t long before commercial success came Margie’s way at Atlantic.

Solomon Burke’s recording career began back in 1956, when he released his debut single on Apollo Records. Seven years later, in 1963, he was signed to Atlantic Records. He had just released his debut album If You Need Me. Later that year, he released You’re Good For Me as a single. Tucked away on the B-Side Beautiful Brown Eyes in 1963. Written by Roy Acuff and Arthur Smith and produced by Bert Sterns, it’s a heartachingly beautiful hidden gem.

Listening to The Temptations’ cover of Bobby Russell’s Little Green Apples, it’s hard to believe that they recorded this track during their psychedelic period. Featuring an understated arrangement and Paul Williams  wistful, thoughtful vocal, it’s very different to much of the music they recorded during this period. Little Green Apples, featured on their 1969 album Puzzle People. It reached number five in the US Billboard 200 and number one on the US R&B charts. This resulted in another gold disc for The Temptations, who during this period, could seemingly do no wrong.

Bo Kirkland and Ruth Davis joined together to cover Freddie Hart’s Easy Loving. It was released as a single on Claridge Records, in 1976. Easy Loving also featured on their 1976 album Bo and Ruth. Accompanied by bursts of braying horns and swathes of the lushest strings, Bo and Ruth  deliver heartfelt, tender vocals. The result is a a beautiful, seductive paean.

Of all the artists on Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3, Arthur Alexander is an artist whose music epitomises the country soul sound. That’s the case with I Hang My Head And Cry. It was the B-Side to Arthur’s 1962 single Anna, which was released on Dot Records. I Hang My Head And Cry was a cover of a song made famous by one of country music’s first superstars, Gene Autry, the “Singing Cowboy.” However, Arthur Alexander’s version is very different. It’s full sadness and pathos, and showcases a vocal that’s rueful and tinged with regret.

Stand By Your Man is an oft-covered track. It was written by Tammy Wynette and Billie Sherrill. The original version was recorded by Tammy Wynette in 1968. A year later, The Mirettes covered Stand By Your Man. Their version was produced by Clarence Paul, Ernie Shelby and Dick Cooper. It’s best described as an impassioned fusion of country, soul and gospel.

Without doubt, one of the finest tracks on Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3, comes courtesy of Bobby Bland. It’s his cover of Charlie Rich’s Who Will The Next Fool Be? It has a late-night, bluesy sound. A despairing, rueful Bobby is accompanied by rasping horns as he wonders “Who Will The Next Fool Be?” Quite simply, this is vintage Bobby Bland.

In 1972, Laura Lee decided to cover Another Man’s Woman, Another Woman’s Man. It was originally recorded by Faron Young and Margie Singleton as a country song. Then in 1968, Lee Rundless covered Marlin Greene, George Jackson and Dan Penn’s song. Candi Staton recorded Another Man’s Woman, Another Woman’s Man in 1969. That for many, was the definitive version. However, in 1972 Laura Lee breathed new life and meaning into a now familiar track. It featured on her 1972 sophomore album Love More Than Pride. Despite bristling with emotion and electricity, Chess decided not to release this song as a single. If they had, maybe Laura Lee’s name would be synonymous with Another Man’s Woman, Another Woman’s Man?

It was in 1963, that Johnny Adams decided to cover Cold Cold Heart. This was a song penned by the man they called the hillbilly Shakespear, Hank Williams. Released on the Ron label, and produced by Joe Ruffino, Johnny Adams delivers a soul-baring vocal that equal parts hurt and disbelief.

Nearly fifty years after releasing he debut single, Bettye Swann is still one of soul music’s best kept secrets. That’s a great shame. It certainly wasn’t through a lack of talent. No. Bettye had a voice that stood comparison with the biggest names in soul music. Sadly, Bettye never got the breakthrough her talent deserved. By 1972, Bettye was signed to Atlantic Records. She released Larry Henley and Red Lane’s Till I Get It Right. Produced by Mickey Buckins, Till I Get It Right is the perfect showcase for a hopeful, heartfelt vocal from Bettye.

Having started life in a doo woo group, Brook Benton was forced to change direction in the early sixties. As his career progressed, his singles weren’t as successful. So he decided to reinvent himself as a balladeer. In 1963, producer Shelby Singleton took Brook to Nashvile, where he recorded Darrell Edwards and George Jones’ Tender Years. It then became the B-Side to his 1963 single My True Confession. It’s a track that oozes quality and emotion. With Shelby Singleton’s help, he recorded a wistful, country-tinged take on Tender Years.

My final choice from Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3 is Esther Phillips’ Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry. It was released as a single on Roulette Records in 1969. By then, Esther Phillips was on the comeback trail. Her career had been on hold due to heroin addiction, which blighted her career. Esther hoped lightning would strike twice. Country music rescued her career in 1962. Seven years later, she headed to Nashville and recorded a bunch of songs. This includes Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry. While it never gave Esther a hit single, it shows just what she was capable of.

Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3 has a pleasure to review. It’s an album that absolutely oozes quality. Compiler Tony Rounce has chosen well. There’s a nice mix of the familiar and hidden gems.

The track listing reads like a list of the great and good of soul music. There’s contributions from Percy Sledge, Solomon Burke, The Temptations, Arthur Alexander, The Supremes and Bobby Bland. Then there’s more than a few hidden gems.

The hidden gems include tracks from some of soul music’s best kept secrets. This includes from soul sisters Margie Joseph, Bettye Swann and Esther Phillips. Then there’s contributions from Johnny Adams and Ralph “Soul” Jackson. They contribute two tracks that epitomise the country soul sound. However, one of the most intriguing tracks comes courtesy of  George Benson. 

His 1969 single My Woman’s Good To Me is proof that George Benson found his voice way before the mid-seventies. Of the hidden gems, this is the most intriguing of the lot. It’s just one of many reason why Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3 is without doubt, the best instalment in the Where Country Meets Soul series.

It seems that with each instalment in the Where Country Meets Soul series surpasses the previous one. That’s the case with Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3. The man to thank for this, is compiler, Tony Rounce. He’s a man who knows his country soul. Tony has surpassed himself with Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3. It was recently released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records. So good is Cold Cold Heart-Where Country Meets Soul Volume 3 that I’m already looking forward to Volume 4.

COLD COLD HEART-WHEN COUNTRY MEETS SOUL VOLUME 3.

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