Fricke's Picks: Lost and Found Ford

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Kentucky-born singer-songwriter Jim Ford (1941-2007) made famous friends easily with his natural blend of country comfort and deep soul. Bobby Womack had a 1972 hit with Ford's stoner portrait "Harry Hippie"; Nick Lowe performed Ford's songs with the bands Brinsley Schwarz and Rockpile. But Ford kept hitting brick walls with his own albums. After 1969's Harlan County, he made two unreleased LPs finally resurrected as The Unissued Capitol Album and Big Mouth USA: The Unissued Paramount Album (both Bear Family). The former, from 1970, has Ford's pothead-gait version of "Harry Hippie" and is rife with New Orleans hoodoo. "You Just-A" sounds like Ford cut it at a Dr. John-Sly Stone session. The '73 Paramount sessions veer wildly from raging honky-tonk to Cajun fiddle and wah-wah funk. In "If I Go Country," Ford drawls about splitting the big city over a sleek urban-country groove — like he's headed for Highway 61 via 110th Street.

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