Givin' It Up For Waylon

Lonesome, On’ry and Mean –
A Tribute to Waylon Jennings

It’s been a while since we heard a really good tribute album. Here it is, from its Americana start to its full-throttle, psychotic-sounding rock ‘n’ roll finish. Fans will enjoy this toast to one of the best singer/songwriters in American music history.

Guy Clark cranks up the tribute with Waylon’s classic “Good Hearted Woman,” followed by fellow Texan Nanci Griffith’s “You Asked Me To.” Carlene Carter – absent from recording in recent years – does a fine job on “I’ve Always Been Crazy.” Grammy winner Norah Jones, another Texan, really shines on “Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want To Get Over You).” Other notable singers on the Waylon homage include Radney Foster, Cowboy Jack Clement and Pam Tillis. C

One Step Ahead –
Rhonda Vincent

A decade ago, crafty minds on Music Row in Nashville attempted to make Rhonda Vincent a hitmaker in mainstream country music. After a few singles on Giant Records, Rhonda’s bluegrassy voice and style was not welcomed. These days, Vincent – the reigning International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year – is comfortable making her own music. If hit songs evolve, well that’s just a plus.

After two successful bluegrass albums on Rounder, One Step Ahead is another thumbs up. Joined by an all-star cast of pickers, Vincent cranks it up from the CD’s leadoff, “Kentucky Borderline.” Among the many great things R.V. does on this project is mix styles, including a soulful country love ballad like “You Can’t Take it With You When You Go” and gospel’s “Fishers of Men.” A nice, down-home collection of tunes from the Missouri native. B+

Have You Forgotten? –
Darryl Worley

In the weeks leading up to the conflict in Iraq, Americans clashed over the issue of going to war. Country music’s Darryl Worley took the opportunity to release his patriotic reflection of that internal feud. The result, “Have You Forgotten?” – a song that struck a red, white and blue chord with millions of fans.

On this album, in addition to the aforementioned No. 1 hit, you’ll find “I Will Hold My Ground,” a don’t-push-me anthem. Civil War buffs will enjoy “Shiloh,” about the bloody 1862 battle that cost 24,000 American casualties. Shiloh is located just down the Tennessee River from Worley’s native Savannah, Tenn. The rest of the cuts of this disc include pieces from Darryl’s two previous works, including “POW 369” and “A Good Day To Run.” B+

20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection –
Toby Keith

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With all the success he’s had in the past three years (multiple awards, multiple No. 1s and multiple platinum albums), it’s hard to imagine that Toby was without a record deal some four years ago. Before Toby moved over to Dreamworks Records, the long-tall Oklahoman had a six-year run of hits and platinum records for Mercury Records and its affiliated labels (Polydor, A&M). The 20th Century Masters collection is a sampling of Keith’s Mercury years.

If you are a diehard Toby Keith fan, you probably already own the stellar Greatest Hits Vol. 1 collection that arrived in ’98. On this new Millennium Collection, 11 of the 12 tracks also appear on that 14-track greatest hits offering. Only “A Woman’s Touch” is a new addition to this package. Other hits featured on the new release include “Who’s That Man,” “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” “You Ain’t Much Fun” and “Dream Walkin.'” D