Matthews Southern Comfort is a transitional album for Matthews. Having recently exited Fairport Convention, this record pays tribute to that period of his career in both material ("A Castle Far") and in the choice of musicians who back him (many of them from Fairport Convention). At the same time, songs like "A Commercial Proposition" indicate where Matthews' future work is headed. With Second Spring, the other album included on this two-fer, Southern Comfort is a real band, and in addition to Matthews also includes Roger Swallow (ex-Marmalade) and Marc Griffiths (ex-Spooky Tooth). Although there is really nothing that makes this a memorable record, it's still quite nice overall.
This two-fer from the Australian Raven label is a part of a series of Delbert McClinton reissues. All of them come with new liner notes, session photos, and bonus tracks. These two albums, from 1980 and 1981, respectively, represent a renaissance for McClinton of sorts. While he never had a fallow period creatively, The Jealous Kind allowed him a renewed commercial viability even if it was short-lived. Both records were issued by the Muscle Shoals Sound imprint of Capitol Records and were produced by Barry Beckett with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section and horns. While the first disc is centered around diversity in its song choices – by everyone from Larry Henley to Bobby Charles to Van Morrison to Al Green to Jerry Williams – and took radical approaches to reinterpreting the material through soul, blues, funk, rock, and country, the latter chose hard-driving Southern-fried funk and R&B and a relatively close-to-the-vest approach in terms of material – most notably covers of "In the Midnight Hour" and Naomi Neville's "Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)".
The eighth and ninth studio albums (there was a live recording between them) from the Atlanta Rhythm Section got a belated U.K. CD release in 2010. These closed out the act's affiliation with Polydor Records and are condensed onto a single CD here, as well as digitally remastered. It's another in the classy series of ARS reissues from BGO, which has treated the Southern pop act's catalog with utmost respect on four previous discs that bring the group's original albums back in print for collectors and music fans who want more than the 17 hits on Polydor's well-chosen 1982 vintage Best Of. Liner notes from Campbell Devine tend to be fawning but include a comprehensive history of the band, recounting its story leading up to and even after the recording of these tunes. Musically, ARS captured a unique style halfway between the smooth West Coast pop of the late '70s and the Southern rock of the era.
Waters' The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folk Blues, combined here onto one CD, were not exactly random collections of tracks – the quality was too consistently high for them to just have been picked out of a hat. Still, it was a pretty arbitrary grouping of items that he recorded between 1947 and 1964. In fact, they hail from throughout his whole stint at Chess, virtually; at the time these albums were first issued, though, all of the material on More Real Folk Blues was from the late '40s and early '50s. They didn't exactly concentrate on his most well-known songs, but they didn't entirely neglect them either, including "Mannish Boy," "Walking Thru the Park," "The Same Thing," "Rollin' & Tumblin' Part One," "She's Alright," and "Honey Bee," amongst somewhat more obscure selections. So ultimately, this disc's usefulness depends on your fussiness as a collector – if it's the only Waters you ever pick up, you'll still have a good idea of his greatness, and if you don't mind getting some tracks you might already have on more avowedly best-of sets, you'll probably hear some stuff you don't already have in your collection.