Recording information: America Recording Studios, Memphis, TN (1971); Capricorn Sound Studios, Macon, GA (1971); Cinderella Sound Studios, Madison, TN (1971); Fame Recording Studio, Muscle Shoals, AL (1971); Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Muscle Shoals, AL (1971); Nashville, TN (1971); RCA Victor, Nashville, TN (1971); RCA's "Nashville Sound" Studio, Nashville, TN (1971); Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, CA (1971).
Photographers: Michael Ochs; David Gahr; Robert Alexander ; Gilles Pétard; Steve Morley; Carol M. Highsmith; Tom Hill; Charlie Gillett.
Soul Jazz's sequel to their successful 2011 set Delta Swamp Rock is similarly handsomely packaged and quirkily selected, using the term "swamp rock" as a loose guideline. Like that set, Delta Swamp Rock, Vol. 2 finds room for Memphis pop that sounds not at all swampy -- Alex Chilton in both cases, here represented by the slick AM pop of the Box Tops' "Deep in Kentucky," which at least sounds soulful, unlike Big Star's delicate "13" -- and this unusually opts for a few songs that remain standards on any American classic rock station you may find: Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird," Marshall Tucker Band's "Fire On the Mountain," and Gregg Allman's "Midnight Rider." Around these anchors come a variety of gorgeous, lush country-pop crossovers (Bobbie Gentry, Joe South), Hollywood hucksters (Cher covering Buffalo Springfield), some old country guys stretching out (Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed), Nashville guys playing rock (Area Code 615, Captain Beyond), blues-rockers playing jazz (Grinderswitch), country-rockers doing pop (Captain Beyond), and every now and then a bit of actual swamp rock, thanks to Tony Joe White. Of course, this is nothing more than a bit of nitpicking semantics: those who have a real attachment to the sound of swamp rock are the only ones that will gripe about the absence of such here, but what Delta Swamp Rock, Vol. 2 really does is illustrate the richness of Southern pop and rock in the late '60s and early '70s. This is music that can't be confined to one category -- it's soulful, it's gritty, jazzy, dirty, slick, and funky, sampling from a little bit of all the grand American musical traditions. For those who are unfamiliar with this tradition, this is a great way to get acquainted with '70s Southern rock in all its stripes, while those who know this stuff well will appreciate the idiosyncrasies and occasional obscurity on this fine collection. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine