The debt country music owes to soul music has never really been a secret; the two genres have overlapped since the beginning of recorded music. Though the title of this compilation might suggest that these covers are unexpected from country artists, there’s really nothing particularly shocking about it. What this excellent compilation does, however, is share some really country music and country versions of several numbers better known as soul hits. For the most part, the crossover works; several of these numbers, such as Ronnie Milsap’s take on the Bacharach/David classic “Any Day Now” and Johnny Paycheck’s version of “She’s All I Got,” were actually much more successful than the original, much more obscure soul versions. Not everything works, simply because the original versions are so iconic; Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s duet of the Otis Redding Classic “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” and father/daughter duo The Kendalls’ take on James Carr’s signature tune “The Dark End Of The Street,” while musically okay, feel overshadowed by the more potent original takes. But for the most part, the songs on Out Of Left Field are lesser-known cuts, making the songs stand on their own merit. Tanya Tucker’s sultry take of Barbara Lewis’ “Baby I’m Yours” is powerful and potent, while the fun, funky Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty duet “Pickin’ Wild Mountain Berries” is an enjoyable rework of a Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson tune. Mostly, though, Out Of Left Field is a fun, enjoyable compilation of tracks that neither steal nor squash the soulful elements in their country reworking.
Out Of Left Field is available now via Ace Records.