Steve Cropper/The 5 Royales
This Is Dedi-Cated to Mr. Lowman Pauling
Steve Cropper: Dedicated: A Salute to the 5 Royales (429)
This tribute record isn't designed for nostalgic old folks or curious young folks. The 5 Royales never attracted many of either. Yet without once cracking the top 40, they recorded more first-rate songs than any of their rivals except the Coasters, and unlike the Coasters they wrote their own. That is, Lowman Pauling did, and remarkably for a '50s vocal group, Pauling was primarily a guitarist. So here paying his respects comes the guitarist who co-invented Stax-Volt and co-wrote "Knock on Wood" and "In the Midnight Hour." Short on context for decades now, he proves Pauling's book is deeper than his own with assistance from such serial oversingers as Steve Winwood, Bettye LaVette, Delbert McClinton, John Popper, and Sharon Jones. Lucinda Williams takes "Dedicated to the One I Love" with Dan Penn manning the bridge. Cropper has the hubris and common sense to transform what you thought was James Brown's "Think" into an instrumental. A MINUS
The 5 Royales: The Very Best of the 5 Royales (Collectables '04)
Rhino's Ed Ward-picked Monkey Hips and Rice exemplifies the compiler's craft. It doesn't rank with Robert Palmer's Elmore James or Ken Braun's Franco only because the 5 Royales aren't quite in that league. But these North Carolinians certainly outshone such oft-mourned '50s also-rans as Charlie Feathers and Orioles, as anyone who owns Ward's long-deleted 1995 comp is aware. Anyone who doesn't, however, may be put off by collector prices that start at $45 for two used CDs and quickly rise into triple figures. So here's a starter kit, which adds 11 good-to-excellent tracks to 14 of the 41 keepers Ward chose. Presumably the idea was to target doowop nuts, who like things slow, and skip uptempo finds‑-although not such essentials as "The Slummer the Slum" or "Monkey Hips and Rice." Even the more generic new selections demonstrate that Lowman Pauling wasn't the group's only weapon‑-singer Johnny Tanner presages doowop's evolution into soul with a lot less market calculation than Ben E. King. And it's really too bad Ward didn't squeeze in the four-minute group workout "I'm With You" or the barely articulate "My Wants for Love," where Johnny lets his brother Eugene grab the lead and the opportunity moves him very much. A MINUS
The Roky Erickson tribute Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye has a few songs too many, but most of it is fun, especially Doug Sahm's supercharged metal make-over of "You're Gonna Miss Me".
James Carter's Gold Soundz (Pavement tribute) and George Jones' My Favorites of Hank Williams are pretty decent as well. Does Lost in the Stars count?
Joe, or anyone else with a good memory, can you recall the tracks on the single disc Rhapsody Playlist of the Goin' Home tribute? As near as I can tell (and searching via Wayback Machine), that playlist was from December 12, 2007 and had 12 tracks as follows:
1. Ain't That A Shame - John Lennon
2. I Want to Walk You Home - Paul McCartney featuring Allen Toussaint
3. Blue Monday - Randy Newman
4. My Blue Heaven - Norah Jones
5. Honey Chile - Lucinda Williams
6. One Night Of Sin (Live At Tipitina's) - Corinne Bailey Rae
7. My Girl Josephine - Taj Mahal and The New Orleans Social Club
8. Don't Blame It On Me - Bruce Hornsby
9. I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday - Herbie Hancock With George Porter, Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste And Renard Poché
10. So Long - Big Chief Monk Boudreaux with Galactic
11. Walking to New Orleans -Neil Young
12. I Just Can't Get New Orleans Off My Mind - Irma Thomas & Marcia Ball
It may just be me, but I have a harder time tracking down Robert's Rhapsody playlists these days and even the Wayback Machine struggled enough to make me unsure of the results.
Wonder if Winston Rodney still has enough voice to do a Marley.
For me the guilty pleasure of hearing Pavement and Moby on Schoolhouse Rock Rocks is fun still but can't beat the original songs.
My favorite thing on that CD, by far, was Biz Markie's "Energy Blues." Fun CD, but it could have been a lot better.
Best single-artist to single-artists: Lo and Behold.
Charlie Poole doesn't count because it's actually the originals and the guest artists that make it such a winner. Both Bragg-Wilco and both Klezmatics Guthries would count except what makes them such winners is that Guthrie didn't write the tunes. Tunes were not his strength. All four are wonderful records, though.
Wonder if Winston Rodney still has enough voice to do a Marley. Probably not.
Oh, just remembered another one, also Dylan: Maria Muldaur.
Better get back to my B&N column.
My fave non-A-listed tribute albums are For the Love of Harry, and espeically Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino. Xgau edited the 2-CD set down to a single disc in one of his Rhapsody playlists and I burned that single CD edited version and play it all the time.
This almost begs for someone to pull the choice cuts from the tribute albums and create a compendium. Sounds like another job for Joe Yanosik.
Performer with the most tribute albums, none of which quite knock it out of the park: Johnny Cash.This almost begs for someone to pull the choice cuts from the tribute albums and create a compendium.
Folkways: A Vision Shared -- A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly
Gets a big A- minus from both Bob and me.
Performer with the most tribute albums, none of which quite knock it out of the park: Johnny Cash.
Single-artist-to-single-artist albums I always think of first: Coulson, Dean McGuiness Flint's Lo and Behold and Merle Haggard's A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World: Or, My Salute to Bob Wills.
But this seems like "choice cut" territory to me--I wouldn't want to do without REM's version of Richard Thompson's "Wall of Death" for instance--or the Dylan "Train of Love" I mentioned below. Or the Holmes Brothers' version of "Beast of Burden"
I'm often taken with how good Raul Malo sounds on tribute records (to Springsteen, Haggard) compared to how he sounds on his own records.
I almost thumbed down Jeff C, but only because I was disappointed with Wisconsin's election results. Did not seem fair, so I am posting instead.
I am a huge Hound Dog Taylor fan (thanks to Robert), so I am not sure how I missed that tribute album on Alligator. Now, I am waiting for the disc to arrive.
The Etta James The Essential Modern Records Collection sounded beyond excellent on my drive to work this morning.
Good news: The great poet of the working class Philip Levine has been named Poet Laureate.
Bad news: The GOP has retained control of the Wisconsin senate...and the subjugation of said working class (which now includes a huge chunk of the former middle class) continues.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.