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I'm a Long Gone Daddy (11/23/2001) Write to CD Shakedown
Timeless: Hank WilliamsVarious Artists, Timeless: Music of Hank Williams (Lost Highway 2001) - Lost Highway Records has enjoyed a banner year, with stellar recordings from Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, and the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

Instead of homogenized pap, label honcho Luke Lewis is willing to go with his instincts, which tap back to the countrified folk of Graham Parsons. And so Timeless: Music of Hank Williams is a triumph, with a great blending of artists capturing the spirit of the late hillbilly singer (who died, drunk and stoned, in the backseat of his Cadillac Fleetwood on January 1, 1953).

Timeless: Hank WilliamsHank Williams was a unique talent, who brought country music into the limelight, while also imbuing the songs with his intimate and darkly emotional lyrics. Explains Lewis, "We really let the artists interpret the songs on their own and record them with their own producer and players. We thought it would all turn out better that way . . . [In the end,] they treated it with respect. I don't think Hank would have minded it at all."

Almost every track is a standout. Bob Dylan opens with a bouncy rendition of "I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind," followed by Sheryl Crow, who displays a dyed-in-the-wool yodel on "Long Gone Lonesome Blues."

Sheryl CrowThe winning streak continues with a bluesy version of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" by Keb' Mo', followed by the best Beck song in ages - an echo-laden version of "Your Cheatin' Heart," which brings out the hurt and pain in this song.

The highlight of the album is Ryan Adams' outstanding version of "Lovesick Blues." Adams knocks the song dead with his one-take, warts-and-all approach, that displays impeccable phrasing, backed by a subtle string bass and fiddle.

Lucinda WilliamsAlso appearing is the artist's grandson, Hank Williams III, with a bouncy version of "I'm A Long Gone Daddy," and a plaintive reading of "Cold, Cold Heart" by Lucinda Williams. Comments Lucinda, "Singing Hank Williams songs is how I first learned to crack my voice. Hank is bona fide country. Contemporary country music is not about that."

Other artists include Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris, and Keith Richards (a washed-out version of "You Win Again").

Compilation albums often sound better on paper than they do on your stereo. But Timeless: Music of Hank Williams is the exception to the rule. Buy it just for Ryan Adams: the rest is just as good.

BubbaT. Bubba Bechtol, I'm Confused (MCA Nashville 2001) - T. Bubba (the "T" stands for "The") is a Southern-based comedian who has worked his way up to being one of the top bubbas in the country.

T. Bubba started life as James Teryl Bechtol, raised in the heart of Mississippi's Cajun country. Remarks T. Bubba, "We lived so far in the woods we had to walk towards town to hunt." T. Bubba left college to pursue a career in sales. With his natural gift of the gab, his career skyrocketed, enabling him to retire and sell his business by age 30.

BubbaT. Bubba found himself in demand as a motivational speaker, and was elected President of the United States Jaycees. T. Bubba also got involved in politics, moving to Washington, D.C. in the 80s to join the Ronald Reagan camp as a fundraiser. (Whoa. This is not your average Bubba).

In his career as a funnyman, Bubba has opened for a variety of country stars, including Loretta Lynn, Marty Stewart, and Vince Gill. T. Bubba also regularly appears on the Grand Ole Opry.

Bubba has two main targets - things southern, and things large. Says Bubba, "I tried every diet in the world . . . My doctor put me on a diet two months ago. Didn't have too much food in it. Had to go on two diets to get enough to eat."

BubbaI'm Confused was recorded live at the Pensacola Little Theater during two sold-out nights in July 2001. T. Bubba tries to keep his humor clean. "I can be funny without having to use words or actions other comics resort to. You can repeat my jokes on Monday in front of anyone, even at church. Besides, I've had to keep my comedy clean, because my momma's still alive."

Bubba also makes fun of people whom he calls "igmos" (that's a cross between ignorant and moron). Bubba talks about going down to the chicken place, where he ordered "a dozen buckets of chicken, two gallons of Co-cola, six ears of corn, and fourteen packages of fried okra." According to Bubba, "the little girl looked me right in the face and said, 'Y'all going to eat that here or take that with you?'" Now that's an "igmo."

It's always hard to catch the essence of a comedy album in a review. Suffice it to say, Bubba has a down-home, folksy sense. Have fun with Bubba's pone style.

CranberriesThe Cranberries, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (MCA Records 2001) - The Cranberries, from Limerick, Ireland, have returned with their first new album in two years. The quartet of brothers Noel Hogan (guitar), Mike Hogan (bass), Fergal Lawler (drums), and singer Dolores O'Riordan still sound fresh, as they approach their tenth anniversary.

Comments Dolores, "This, our fifth album, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, is an extremely up and grateful album. Life is never as black and white as one may assume it to be . . .

Cranberries"Since Bury the Hatchet was released we toured; fortunately I became pregnant again and gave birth to a beautiful little girl. I guess family and friends are the essential key to happiness. It is from such simplicities that we create love. So, a far cry from To the Faithful Departed, but life is short and meant to be enjoyed."

The band still rocks on tracks like "This Is the Day," while Dolores' vocals shine on "Analyze." Also listen for the pop sounds of "I Really Hope."

CranberriesThe album concludes with the somber "Chocolate Brown," cut live with one microphone. Explains Mike Hogan, "A few songs on the album have different vibes from anything we've done before. It's nice to do different things, though it's not something we planned. It just happens naturally."

The Cranberries have always been a hard-working band, and deserve kudos for their attention to their craft. Dolores O'Riordan rings true on Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.

- Randy Krbechek © 2001

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