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Album Review

Jim Ford, 'Big Mouth USA: The Unissued Paramount Album'

July 6, 2009
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Jim Ford Big Mouth USA: The Unissued Paramount Album
Bear Family
ESSENTIAL “Big Mouth USA’’

Jim Ford was a bona fide cult artist, a status solidified by the fact that after his debut (and only) release came out in 1969, he recorded albums for two labels that never saw the light of day. Bear Family has just reissued both of those unreleased albums; this is the second of the two, chronologically speaking, and it gives no reason to think that its original fate was due to any lack of quality. Ford was a purveyor of country-soul, a variant of Southern soul that incorporates both sides of its hyphen - think Tony Joe White or Elvis in Memphis and you’re in the right territory. The music here veers to full-blown, horn-fueled soul on “Family Tree,’’ back to straight-ahead country on a fine cover of Eddy Arnold’s “Big Bouquet of Roses,’’ and reverberates between both sides on the swampy, twangy title track. The problem with the release isn’t the music, but how little of it there is, especially by Bear Family’s usual standards (and the resulting price). And little of it is “new,’’ since seven of the album’s 10 tracks were included on the label’s previous two Ford reissues. (Out now)

STUART MUNRO