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Tracy Nelson

Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country – 1996 (Reprise)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Tracy Nelson

Here is the lost and forgotten classic of the original country-rock movement. Nelson, with her band Mother Earth, came on the scene in the late '60's, in response to the success of Janis Joplin, to whom she bears a more than passing vocal resemblance. But where Joplin engulfed everything she sang, even a little country song like "Me and Bobby McGee" in her unique vocal histrionics, Nelson sang with a more subtle power.

When she sang blues it was blues; when she sang country it was hardly demure, butcertainly country. This was her one opprtunity to cut an entirely country album, and she didn't waste it. (The CD adds three slightly less country tracks from the second Mother Earth album, including a somewhat Joplinized version of "You Win Again.") Backing came from the top-notch likes of Scotty Moore, Johnnny Gimble, and D. J. Fontana. Songs included classics like "I Fall To Pieces" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Other fine songs were, and almost unfathomably continue to be, virtually unknown, such as "Sad Situation" and "Stay As Sweet As You Are."

There's not a clunker in the bunch. For those who like country with a soulful punch, this album is a must.