No sense wasting time: stop reading this review and go buy this album. Right now. I mean it. What are you waiting for?
OK, if you're gonna be that way, I'll try another tactic. For those of you who heeded my advice and are now listening to this album while reading this, you're already thanking me. You're welcome.
For the rest of you: If you love "old" Country, you'll absolutely and thoroughly love this album. If you thought you didn't like "Country", this album will quickly show you that you at least like good Country music. Of course, using this album as a measuring stick, you'll possibly never buy another country album again - because finding one to equal, or even approach, this one could be a Quixotic journey. In that case, just put this album on "repeat play" and leave it there until your CD player breaks. Then, quickly replace your CD player and start all over.
There's no way I can pick favorites on this compilation, and when the choices include duets by the likes of Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris, James Taylor and Alison Krauss, and Linda Ronstadt and Carl Jackson, that's a hell of a tribute to everyone else's contributions. "And who else is there?", you might ask: Joe Nichols, Rhonda Vincent, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash - see, now you've forced me to name names, which usually means leaving out the names of other worthies or making the review even longer, which only delays your purchase. And nothing should do that, so I'll just say "It doesn't matter WHO is on the album, all that matters is that the album is on your CD player".
I guess I should mention that this is a "tribute" album, consisting mainly of duets - most male/female, but a few same gender ones that are equally excellent. In addition to the great songs and great performances of them, what I like most about this album is that the recordings all sound as if they were made using the same band, recorded in the same studio - with the only things that changed being the singers. Since my review copy had only the barest of notes - basically just the track titles and singers - I don't know if that was really the case. If not, in a way, it's even more impressive that the results are so uniform.
Charlie and Ira Louvin wrote (and recorded) some of the very best that Country Music had to offer in the '50s and '60s. Besides great songs, they set a new standard for vocal harmonies, influencing such later stars as The Everly Brothers (notably missing from this tribute - is there a story behind that egregious omission?) and the Gram Parsons-influenced period of The Byrds, not to mention other country-rock stars such as the Eagles.
Back to this album, though. The musicianship is stellar, as are the vocals. Songs that should jump do, while others sway or meander. Not one song, nor the performance of it, is less than a 9.5. It's beyond my comprehension to think that anyone would find this collection anything short of excellent. So, for those of you who just HAD to read what I had to say before plunking down your hard-earned cash, I ask again" "What are you waiting for?"
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