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Good but not the real thing.
on 1 February 2001
While it's admirable that so many contemporary musicians of high standing (Elvis Costello, Beck, Steve Earle, Lemonheads, etc.) cared enough about cult country legend Gram Parsons to put together a tribute album, very rarely does this disc scratch through the surface of what made Parsons' music great.
Parsons was a rock musician of the '60s and '70s who took traditional country music and fused it with rock (he was briefly a member of the Byrds), thereby trailblazing a path through American alternative rock that continues to be explored today by the likes of Beck, Wilco and Mercury Rev. He also had a sublime gift for evoking incredible emotion and power in his vocals and his songwriting, but few of the artists on this album are able to take the original recordings and improve them... perhaps because the originals were so good.
Highlights include Beck's pared-down "Sin City", The Cowboy Junkies' interesting update of "Las Vegas", and Elvis Costello's (can the man do no wrong?) "Sleepless Nights", but elsewhere it's little more than a star-studded karaoke fest.
It's great that Gram Parsons is finally receiving some credit for his huge influence on American music, but the listener would do better to make sure he or she owns Parsons' seminal 'G.P/Grievous Angel' double set and his earlier work with the Flying Burrito Brothers, the sum of which contains the original gems mined for this tribute.