Bullz-Eye Home
Movie DVDs
Music DVDs
Celebrity Babes
The Opposite Sex
Stuff to Buy
Premium Members

Join  Enter

Cool Links

All Pro Models
Premium Hollywood
EatSleepDrink Music
Sports Blog
Cleveland Sports
Political Humor

CD Reviews: Review of A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver: Live by Various Artists
Harris Home / CD Reviews Home / Entertainment Channel / Entertainment Web Guide

Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Various Artists: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver: Live (Label 2005)

Buy your copy now from
If you’re a country purist, you’ve gotta be pretty bummed these days.

Johnny’s gone. Waylon, too. Kris was always more of a poet than a singer, and Willie…well, okay, Willie’s still Willie, but, somewhere along the line, he transformed from outlaw to icon. There’s nothing wrong with that, really, but, for the same reason fans of U2 prior to The Unforgettable Fire days can’t entirely get behind anything the band does nowadays, fans of Willie’s since his late ‘60s / early ‘70s work have a problem properly embracing albums where every song seems to feature a guest star from today’s crop of musicians.

Billy Joe Shaver, however, has remained decidedly untainted by any experiences he’s had over the years in country music. He’s what you’d call a country musician’s country musician…which, loosely translated, means that his sales might not amount to a hill of beans, but his music will stand the test of time after other one-trick ponies have come, gone, and left no permanent mark.

If these sound like the sort of comments that have been cut and pasted from a publicist-composed artist bio...well, they’re not. Shaver really is that good. All of those outlaw artists mentioned above...? He’s worked with ‘em. Kristofferson recorded Shaver’s “Good Christian Soldier,” then returned the favor by producing Shaver’s debut solo album. Cash recorded what most agree is the definitive version of “I’m Just An Old Lump of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be A Diamond Some Day),” but Jennings one-upped him by releasing Honky Tonk Heroes, a ten-song album of which nine were written by Shaver. Even Nelson got into the act in 2000, when he, Kristofferson, and Jennings all teamed with Shaver to record an album’s worth of Billy Joe’s songs. (Confusingly, it, too, is called Honky Tonk Heroes.) Oh, yeah, and Elvis Presley knocked one of Shaver’s songs out of the park, too, with his rendition of “You Asked Me To,” which closed the King’s Promised Land album.

To celebrate Shaver’s 65th birthday, a bunch of his fellow country musician’s country musicians -- Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Robert Earl Keen, to name a few -- got together t o pay tribute to a man who’d influenced them. The festivities begin with a performance by Shaver himself, teamed with the band Diamondback Texas, on “Georgia on a Fast Train.” (Shame they couldn’t get BR5-49 in to do the honors, as they recorded the song on their ’98 album, Big Backyard Beat Show.)

As you’d expect, the tribute focuses primarily on Shaver’s own songs, but there are exceptions; Clark performs one of his own songs, “Randall Knife,” which is one of Shaver’s favorites, and Ely opts for his own “Honky Tonk Masquerade,” which was directly inspired by Shaver’s own work.

No matter what the material, however, the assembled artists offer introductions to their songs, some of which ramble on a bit, but they help put things in perspective and really give you a feel for how much the man’s work has touched them. Gilmore, in particular, offers a self-fulfilling prophecy that he might not make it through his introduction to “Hearts-A-Bustin’” without his voice breaking, so personal is his connection to the song.

The performances may not be perfection across the board, but the emotion behind them is undeniable. Watson’s rendition of “You Asked Me To” is a heartfelt reminder of how good old school country can be; perhaps most surprisingly, country comedy troupe the Geezinslaws contribute a rollicking version of “Bad Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Robert Earl Keen’s introduction to “Bottom Dollar” is hard to top, but his version is pretty solid.

This might not be the best introduction to Billy Joe Shaver’s work – that honor goes to a Razor and Tie compilation, Restless Wind – but it’s a nice start, and it certainly demonstrates the love that the man’s fans have for him. 

~Will Harris 


Bullz-Eye.com : Feedback - Link to Us  - About B-E - FAQ - Advertise with Us

© 2000-2005 Bullz-Eye.com®, All Rights Reserved. Contact the webmaster with questions or comments. Privacy Policy and Site Map