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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Various Artists / Dirty Laundry

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   Black country singers? It sounds as oxymoronic to some ears as Mexican polka, but then much Mexican music was influenced by polka and north of the Rio Grande, the cultural lines between black and white, blues and country, were often fluid. The pair of Dirty Laundry compilations is among the most enjoyable anthologies released this year. Consisting mostly of obscure recordings from the 1960s and ’70s by artists famous (Ike & Tina Turner, James Brown) and lesser known, the Dirty Laundry sets feature African-American singers covering country songs with lots of soul and sometimes a touch of scrappy funk. Some songs are familiar (“King of the Road,” “Tennessee Waltz”) but the arrangements cast them in an entirely different light.