In white America, Nashville is best known as the seat of country music. However, African-Americans looked to Nashville as a great source of R'n'B. Radio station WLAC was rife with the hits of the R'n'B stars and the hopefuls. This 2-disc collection features the evolution of R'n'B as you've never heard it before: thumpin', gritty, growlin' and rockin'.
The most startling revelation is how rich, varied, and deep Nashville's R'n'B scene was during a 25-year period in which the city solidified its reputation as the undisputed capital of country music. Arranged chronologically, Night Train to Nashville also traces the steady progression of African-American music beginning with the end of WWII--from jump blues, lusty R'n'B, and smooth-groove vocal groups to proto rock & roll, Southern soul, and Top 40 pop that drew blacks and whites together even as the Vietnam War nearly ripped the country apart. Although this collection contains well-known hits (Bobby Hebb's "Sunny", Robert Knight's "Everlasting Love") and widely acknowledged stars (Etta James and Ruth Brown, both of whom recorded some of their best work in Nashville), many of its most satisfying pleasures come courtesy of lesser-known artists, such as R'n'B belter Christine Kittrell, swamp blues man Shy Guy Douglas, and balladeer Sam Baker. In the midst of many ear-opening discoveries, add one more: When listening to the countrified soul of Arthur Alexander, Joe Simon, and Johnny Adams, it's apparent that Nashville in its '60s heyday wasn't two separate but equal towns but one glorious Southern-music Mecca. --Keith Moerer (Amazon)