Check out this great review of the issue and accompanying CD on sync.arkansas.com!
The Oxford American tackles Alabama Music
Magazine's Southern Music CD No. 12 focuses on state's musical heritage.
By Shea Stewart
LITTLE ROCK — When someone as famous as Charlie Louvin — one half of harmonizing The Louvin Brothers — says, "Let's start jammin'," it's time to jam. The spoken-word intro kicks off The Oxford American's Southern Music CD No. 12, a collection of 27 tunes featuring a "magnificent variety of musical superstars from the state of Alabama." And it does jam — in it's own weird way.
This is the second year the CD that accompanies The Oxford American's Music Issue (out Wednesday) focuses on the musical heritage of one Southern state in particular. The inaugural year Arkansas was the focus, and this year, OA editor Marc Smirnoff and company chose the Heart of Dixie for their musical exploration. The 27 tracks are either produced in Alabama, or written and performed by native Alabamians. (The actual Music Issue will also include a special editorial section with articles dedicated to the musicians and tunes on the album.)
Alabama doesn't have the rich musical history of a Memphis, New Orleans or Mississippi Delta region, but it does offer a deep and diverse musical bedrock. Hank Williams is an Alabamian. Emmylou Harris, too. Three of the original five Temptations — Eddie Kendricks. Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin — were born in Birmingham, and Dennis Edwards, the man who replaced Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, is also a native Alabamian. Percy Sledge and Wilson Pickett — also Alabama. Of course, country music super band Alabama is from Alabama. Sun Ra was born there, and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section backed some legendary bands at FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. The state is home to a contemporary sound as well, with three of the Drive-By Truckers having north Alabama roots, and Jamey Johnson calling Alabama his native state. Indie acts Vulture Whale, The Dexateens and A.A. Bondy have Alabama roots as well.
So that's a brief, incomplete history of the music of Alabama. But for a fuller, complete history of the state, one needs to turn to the Southern Music CD No. 12. Smirnoff and company are into the business of digging deeper, beyond the crust to the mantle, uncovering gems. None of the above artist are found on the Southern Music CD No. 12. Is the music present obscure? Yes, but it's important...
...But the penultimate track is perhaps the album's best: "Precious Lord Lead Me On" from the album King Britt Presents: Sister Gertrude Morgan. In 2005, Britt, a Philadelphia DJ and part-time performer with the Digable Planets, set the '70s recordings from Let's Make A Record of Alabama-born, New Orleans-based preacher, folk artist and musician Sister Gertrude Morgan to hip-hop beats. The result here is Morgan’s shimmying tambourine over a lush orchestra, creating a strange yet beautiful merger of electronica meets hymnal...