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Baker's Dozen

Music As Mountain Railroad: Jeb Loy Nichols' Favourite Records
Andy Thomas , April 12th, 2017 08:53

Musician and crate-digger extraordinaire Jeb Loy Nichols tells the stories behind the stops on his musical railroad, from a deep friendship with Adrian Sherwood and the heroes of Muscle Shoals that led to a love of bluegrass, country, reggae and soul


Dan Penn - Nobody's Fool
Dan Penn's record Nobody's Fool is exactly what a Dan Penn record should be - uneven, unexpected, funky, strange, cocky, defiant. It contains everything a southern soul classic should - country, funk, gospel, blues and soul. We put 'If Love Was Money' on the first Country Got Soul compilation. My favourite moments are the quiet ones though, like 'Ain't No Love' and 'Time'. Songs where Dan stops his strutting and lets his guard down. Dan was always one of the great Southern Soul songwriters, and nobody sings a Dan Penn song better than Dan Penn.

For Volume Two of Country Got Soul we travelled twice to America and met most of the musicians involved. One afternoon, in Dan Penn's basement studio, we asked him if he'd be interested in recording some new music. The first thing Dan asked about, in true southern style, was how much we could pay. Ross (Allen) worked out some figures and a deal was done. Dan called the classic Muscle Shoals rhythm section, I got in touch with George Soule, Larry Jon Wilson and Donnie Fritts, Ross came across with a bag of dollars, and we started recording.

Two years later and there we were, at The Barbican, watching a sold out gig of The Country Soul Revue and Mavis Staples. What had begun in Dan Del Santos living room 25 years earlier had ended up 5000 miles away, in London, on the other side of the world, in a packed concert hall. That's how music moves, in unknowable, unpredictable ways, outside reason, outside rules.