Release Date: 09.08.98
Record label: WEA / Elektra
Genre(s): Trance, Big Beat, Ambient, House, Trip-Hop, etc.
The First Lady of Country Music Deserves More
by: jane kirk
What could be better? Yet another tribute album by a lot of younger artists for an older, more established artist. In case you donít know, this has become quite a trend in country music. Usually, itís for an artist who doesnít really deserve it. Thereís no doubting that Tammy Wynette deserves to be revered, and no doubt she deserves a tribute album. But she deserves a better one than what Asylum dished up. The liner notes (all ten pages) are composed by Evelyn Shriver, who is the president of Asylum records. Evelyn, who used to work for Tammy as her publicist, writes glowing reviews of Tammy as a person, and notes that each artist was picked to be on the CD based on the closeness of their relationship with Tammy, not on their skill or talent. The result is a choppy mess of artists trying to emulate Tammy, and very rarely offering anything new.
There are a few highlights: Elton John's rendition of "Stand By Your Man" makes the song more earnest, since only a man would truly mean anything that is in the lyrics of that song. Melissa Etheridge's version of "Apartment #9" is refreshing and new. Grant it, it's not country. But it's not supposed to be. By including Elton and Melissa on the album, the producer showed the vast influence Tammy had on all types of music, not just country. On the country side of things, K.T Oslin's "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad" reflects a new sassiness that wasn't there in the original recording. But it all goes down hill from there. Not that the other artists aren't talented. Faith Hill sings beautifully on "Til I Can Make it On My Own," but there is no creativity, no originality put into her rendition. Sara Evans belts awesomely on "I Don't Wanna Play House," but the belt is identical to that of the original version.
Overall, the best part of the album is the liner notes. It's almost worth buying for the liner notes alone. But definitely NOT for the music. Yes, the songs are some of the best ever recorded. But I have Tammy's version, and the artists on this album have added very little to the original. Since none of the artists included on this album come anywhere near Tammy's stature, the result is a failure.
Who knows? There is a second Tammy tribute album in the works. It is being done by someone not as closely associated to Tammy, so maybe it will be a better effort. I hope so. "The First Lady of Country Music" deserves a better memoir.