Whether you are deep into South of the Mason Dixon line country soul, or just wanting to learn what it is all about this is a really excellent book. The author starts off with leading us through the mixing of black R&B with white country music so that we can build an understanding of how the various artists and arrangers arrived at the wonderful tracks that seemed to pour seamlessly out of companies such as Stax ,to name perhaps the most famous .Many readers will be surprised to learn that many of the great recordings of southern soul may have had Percy Sledge or Arthur Alexander as the star of the show but the backing musicians and singers were white,most of them steeped in the out pouring s of The Grand Ole Opry.To add to this during the segregation years even up to the mid 50s there were hardly any radio stations that catered for black tastes in music and many of the top singers dealt with in this book actually grew up listening to white country music .Little wonder that many of them went on to record country based soul albums .The author covers most of the top singers in this genre plus giving plenty of information about Memphis ,segregation and lots of background about Muscle Shoals and potted histories of the record companies I cannot praise this book enough and it may lead some readers on to the more heavy weight reading of authors such as Peter Guralnick [but see some of my other revues].There is an index ,which I find essential for reference work ,a good Bibliography,some black and white photo's ,plus a list of 40 masterpieces that the author has chosen as representative of the best of southern soul.
This book is a fascinating and very worthy analysis of the American Deep South "Country Soul" Music phenomenum. Barney Hoskyns has re-visited and updated his original edition of the book with current status on all of the great Artists and Producers and Record Labels of the genre. It's a really good blend of interviews and analysis mixed with the author's own views on the classic and seminal tracks from the era. I found the introductory chapter somewhat pretentious on first reading and was better rewarded by dipping in to specific entries on particular Artists and Producers. This book is absolutely essential reading for anyone remotely interested in the golden era of 60's Soul Music.