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VARIOUS 'The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers' CK-67676-CD

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CBS-67676 THE SONGS OF JIMMIE RODGERS --A TRIBUTE What at first looks like a very promising tribute album turns out to be a real travesty. How can one take 14 great old Jimmie Rodgers songs and a lineup of stars like Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Mellencamp, Dwight Yoakum, Alison Krauss, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, and Jerry Garcia & David Grisman and end up with this pretentious, lackluster hodge-podge? Well, the producers here make it look easy. It's the classic old case of less is more (as in Rodgers' wonderful originals) and more is less (here a lot less): most of the tracks here are either oversung or overproduced if not both, in a tacky attempt to give them new interpretations. Even Alison Krauss sounds out of place here, with a poor choice of a song for her (ANY OLD TIME) and an arrangement in which drums & piano overpower her own band. Garcia & Grisman produce a funky BLUE YODEL # 9, but it's a far cry from Rodgers' masterful version with Louis Armstrong's backing. Only 3 or 4 cuts survive the heavy handed production: Willie Nelson clearly has the feeling and respect that is needed here, and it shows on a nice PEACH PICKING TIME IN GEORGIA. David Ball does a nice job with MISS THE MISSISSIPPI & YOU, one of the loveliest songs in the Rodgers' repertoire, and the inimitable Iris Dement sings a refreshingly warm & honest HOBO BILL'S LAST RIDE. Apart from these slim pickings, the most positive thing you can say about this album is that it will give you an even greater appreciation of what the charismatic Rodgers was able to do some 70 years ago. If you can't treat his music with the proper respect, leave it alone. WAITING FOR A TRAIN, MULE SKINNER BLUES, GAMBLING BARROOM BLUES, MY BLUE EYED JANE, WHY SHOULD I BE LONELY, etc.