When the groundbreaking Country Got Soul appeared in 2003, it drew attention to a subgenre described as having a pound of R&B and an ounce or three of country. Jim Ford made it onto Volume Two with the title track from this, his only “released” album.
Compared to most of the other accepted country-funk artists – Tony Joe White, Larry Jon Wilson, Dan Penn – Jim Ford whipped-up an altogether different hybrid sound with the likes of I’m Gonna Make Her Love Me, which wouldn’t be out of place on a Sly & The Family record. (In fact, Ford was a friend of Sly’s and performs on his extraordinary There’s A Riot Going On.) A cover of Delaney & Bonnie’s Long Road Ahead, gospel-flavoured and laced with horns and funky guitars, finds Ford repaying the favour for their recording his song Poor Elijah on Accept No Substitute. One major fan is Nick Lowe, who covered Ford’s 36 Inches High on Labour Of Lust, while Ford even recorded with Lowe’s old band Brinsley Schwarz, though the recordings never surfaced.
Harlan County’s featured musicians include James Burton, Jim Keltner and Dr John, but it’s Ford’s unique and fearless take on country-funk, and his soulful, gravel-gargled vocals that make this such a must-have reissue.