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Various Artists

Country Funk 1969-1975 – 2012 (Light in the Attic)

Reviewed by Ron Hart

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Don't let the end of "Easy Rider" fool you: not all Southerners hated hippies back in the days of 'Nam. In fact, by 1969 country music was as ingrained in the rapidly morphing landscape of rock 'n' roll as psychedelia, from California's Laurel Canyon where The Byrds and The Eagles were retrofitting the twang into their own scene to Woodstock, N.Y. and 94 MacDougal St. in Greenwich Village, where Bob Dylan was in the throes of one of his richest creative periods with such Western-tinged works as 1969's "Nashville Skyline," 1970's "Self Portrait" and 1973's soundtrack to Sam Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid."

Meanwhile, below the Mason-Dixon line, the visual trails from the Joshua Light Show up north at the Fillmore East surely seemed to have seeped into the soil based upon the sounds of "Country Funk," an excellent various artists compilation from the renowned Seattle reissue imprint Light in the Attic Records.

No, you might not find material from such Grand Ole Opry greats as George Jones, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson amongst the names featured on this 16-song mix spanning the years 1969 through 1975; those cats were on a whole other level of what can be construed as "funky." But you do have Southern Gothic chanteuse Bobbie Gentry bringing a sexual heat that would make Betty Davis blush on He Made a Woman Out of Me. Light Blue is brilliantly groovy nugget from Bobby Darin's protest days living in a trailer near Big Sur, Cal. Link Wray's at the party as well with Fire and Brimstone, a burly track from his outstanding and incredibly underappreciated eponymous 1971 LP, recorded in a converted chicken shack in Accokeek, Md. whose iconic cover portrait pays homage to the guitar preacher's heritage as a member of the Shawnee Indian tribe. You also have a slew of acts that will catch the eye of any scholarly fan of country rock: Jim Ford, Tony Joe White, Bobby Charles, Mac Davis, Dale Hawkins and Larry Jon Wilson are all represented with a track apiece as well.

But what really gives this LP its full tobacco flavor are the cuts from the depths of the movement, like Dennis the Fox, a private press artist from Seattle whose sole album "Mother Trucker" harbors some of the most sought-after breaks in underground beat culture as evidenced on Piledriver. Or how about the soulful, swampy Bayou Country by Gritz, a long, lost Louisiana rock group led by one-time Tom Rush sideman Duke Bardwell. These acts might not be as revered as the company they keep on this collection, but whose contributions are the very essence of this thing they call "Country Funk."