Your Take: Tribute Albums

Juli Thanki | June 29th, 2013

haggardbobwillsTribute albums tend to be hit or miss. For every A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (Or, My Salute to Bob Wills), there’s a Tapestry Revisited

Don Rigsby’s salute to Ralph Stanley, Doctor’s Orders, released earlier this year, already ranks high on my list of favorite tribute records, along with Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’ (which Charlie Louvin told me was “the best tribute album ever recorded by anybody“), A Tribute to the Delmore Brothers, and Merle Haggard’s aforementioned Bob Wills album (the Hag does a mighty fine job honoring Jimmie Rodgers, too).

What are your favorite tribute albums? Are there any artists you’d like to see get the tribute treatment–or receive a better tribute?


  1. Grace
    June 29, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Suzy Bogguss has announced she’s doing a Merle Haggard tribute – if the live material she’s done for it is anything to go by it’s gonna be brilliant. Can’t wait for that one!

  2. Ron
    June 29, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I like cover songs so I enjoy good tribute albums.

    One of my lesser-known favorites is “Real: The Tom T Hall Project”. Johnny Cash doing “Washed My Face in the Morning Dew”, Joe Henry with “Homecoming”, Calexico doing “Tulsa Telephone Book” and Kelly Willis with “That’s How I Got to Memphis” are some of my favorites on the album.

  3. Janice Brooks
    June 29, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Haggard’s tribute to Bob Wills was awsum but you have to mention the Asleep at the Wheel. Also possibly the first country tribute album was from Lefty Frizzell to Jimmie Rodgers in 1953.

    Ron I loved the Tom T hall project too.

  4. Juli Thanki
    June 29, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Speaking of Frizzell, To Lefty from Willie is another dandy:

  5. Barry Mazor
    June 29, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Here’s a brand new one to look for, definitely: The Big E: A Salute to Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons. Featuring Vince Gill, Duane Eddy, Emmylou Harris, John Anderson, Chris Stapleton, Little Jimmie Dickens and Raul Malo–and some of the best steel guitarists around. Produced by Steve Fishell.

    • Juli Thanki
      June 29, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Another fantastic tribute record. Rodney and Emmylou’s version of “That’s All It Took,” with Steve Fishell on steel, is killer.

  6. Paul W Dennis
    June 29, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Jann Brown, Dwight Yoakam and the Derailers all released very good Buck Owens tribute albums. Stonewall Jackson, Charlie Pride and George Hamilton IV all issued nice Hank Williams tribute albums (although technically, GH4’s album is a tribute to ‘Luke the Drifter’).

    I must admit that I usually prefer a single artist tribute album than a collection of artists doing a collecive tribute. The collective effort albums are usually pretty hit or miss although the Louvin tribute referenced above was pretty good as was CAUGHT IN THE WEBB – the Webb Pierce tribute produced by Gail Davies to benefit the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation

    Among my favcrites (other than the above and the two Haggard tributes to Wills and Rodgers

    John England & The Western Swingers – THANKS A LOT (Ernest Tubb tribute

    Laura Cantrell – KITTY WELLS’ DRESSES

    Asleep At The Wheel – RIDE WITH BOB

    Loretta Lynn – I REMEMBER PATSY (CLINE)


  7. Ken Morton, Jr.
    June 29, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed Common Thread: Songs of the Eagles when it pops up on my rotation. With Travis Tritt, Clint Black, John Anderson, Alan Jackson, Suzy Bogguss, Vince Gill and Trisha Yearwood among the contributors, it’s strong.

  8. bob
    June 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I agree with Ken about Common Thread.

    As much as I like the idea of a tribute to the Everly Brothers, the recent effort by the Chapin Sisters was a disappointment. Contributions by multiple artists may have been a better alternative.

  9. Arlene
    June 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    My favorite multi-artist tribute album is last year’s tribute to Guy Clark, This One’s For Him. Two of my favorite single artist tribute albums are Tim O’Brien’s Bob Dylan covers project, Red on Blonde, and Jonell Mosser’s About Townes, a tribute to Townes Van Zandt.

  10. Paul W Dennis
    June 29, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    I forgot to mention ROY ORBISON SINGS DON GIBSON. There have been several tribute albums to Don Gibson, including a decent one by Keny Price titled SEA OF HEARTBREAK, but Orbison and Gibson were kindred spirits and Orbison seemd to understand the heart and soul of Don Gibson like no one else could.

  11. Paul W Dennis
    June 30, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Charlie Sizemore – THE STORY IS … THE SONGS OF TOM T HALL. TTH always had a bluegrass feel to his music and Sizemore has definitely exploited this side of TTH to great effect

    Carl Smith – THERE STANDS THE GLASS. At one time the record labels jealously guarded their rights, generally not allowing their recording artists to appear on other artist’s recordings unless they recorded for the same label. The most stangest and most amusing example of this came when Carl Smith, a Columbia recording artist (and 4th most popular country artist of the 1950s), recorded an album titled THERE STANDS THE GLASS in 1964 in which he recorded twelve of Webb Pierce’s hits and never mentioned him on the album cover (which has several paragraphs of liner notes) or the record label (except on the songwriter credits of several songs)! Webb, of course, recorded for Decca and was the #1 country artist of the 1950s.

  12. Ron Caird
    June 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    If you are a fan of John Prine, check out “Shoot The Moon” by Jeffrey Foucault. He is obviously very influenced by Prine and this album may lead you to check out some of Foucault’s own material. (“Ghost Repeater” is a very good album). Also, Maria Muldaur has a cd called “Heart of Mine” which has some very nice interpretations of Bob Dylan songs.

  13. SunsetPark
    July 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I love the Louvin Brothers tribute album and the 1996 Not Fade Away for Buddy Holly is also great – especially the Waylon Jennings verson of Learning the Game. I definitely prefer tribute albums to be material and artists I’m not that familiar with, to be introduced to something new. There have been a couple of Dolly Parton tribute albums and I haven’t been inclined to check those out, I’d rather listen to her.

  14. Rick
    July 1, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    My personal favorites “Livin, Lovin, Losin” and “Caught In the Webb” have already been mentioned here. I also like the Hag’s tributes to Bob Wills and Jimmie Rodgers a lot as well. I own both The Derailers and Jann Browne tributes to Buck Owens but was not impressed.

    For bluegrass I just love the group of artists the KOCH label gathered together back in 2004 for the “A Tribute To Jimmy Martin, The King of Bluegrass” album. I know that title is probably fightin’ words to Bill Monroe’s legion of fans, but the music more than speaks for itself. Great stuff indeed!

    Although not a great album by any means the Johnny Paycheck Tribute album put together by Robbie Fulks back in 2004 titled “Touch My Heart” has its moments. The electic artist roster works both for and against the project.

    Another semi-successful tribute album is the 1994 Merle Haggard tribute from the Americana realm titled “Tulare Dust, A Songwriters Tribute to Merle Haggard”. This project was spearheaded by Tom Russell and Dave Alvin and the results are mixed due to the vocal limitations and approaches of some of the songwriters as they interpret Hag’s songs. Still it has enough redeeming moments to make it worth checking out.

  15. Rick
    July 1, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Ooops, I forgot about the Dwight Yoakam tribute album “Will Sing For Food – The Songs of Dwight Yoakam” from 1998. Again an eclectic artist list is involved but there are more hits than misses. Hearing Sara Evan’s vocals on “The Distance Between You and Me” is reason enough to buy this album! (lol)

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