Recording information: Bradley's Barn, Mt. Juliet, TN (01/1972); Castle Studios, Nashville, TN (01/1972); Columbia Recording Studio, Nashville, TN (01/1972); RCA's 'Nashville Sound' Studio, TN (01/1972); Singleton Sound Studios, Nashville, TN (01/1972).
Photographers: Michael Ochs; Frank Driggs; Don Paulsen; George Skadding.
Soul Jazz is a music-loving label that specializes in generous, handsome, multi-artist reissues, often focusing on a particular label or style. The 2012 compilation Country Soul Sisters: Women in Country Music 1952-1974 doesn't zero in on a sound, style, or imprint. Rather, it presents a concept -- female country singers who occasionally dabbled in soul. A good idea, but not one that's executed especially well, as the earliest music here pre-dates soul and doesn't have much to do with R&B, either. Patsy Cline jumps a bit on "Ain't No Wheels on This Ship" but Kitty Wells never sounded soulful, particularly not when she sang the hardcore honky tonk of "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," which closes this album. Much of the rest of the disc isn't quite so purely country, but there's more lush countrypolitan here than soul. And, as long as you realize that this doesn't quite deliver on the promise of the title, it's a pretty good sampling of many of the big stars of the '50s, '60s, and early '70s -- Dolly Parton, Jeannie C. Riley, Bobbie Gentry, Tammy Wynette, Barbara Mandrell,Tanya Tucker, Connie Smith, Billie Jo Spears, and Loretta Lynn are all here -- and gives a portrait of the times. And it is most effective as a sampler, not as an introduction; there are so many odd choices and non-hits here that this delivers a feeling, not an overview. It's a time capsule, for better or worse. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine