For the Record: Various Artists, 'The Music Inside: A Collaboration Dedicated to Waylon Jennings Volume II'

February 16, 2012 12:13 pm

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Various Artists 'The Music Inside: A Collaboration Dedicated to Waylon Jennings Volume II' (Average Joe/Scatter Records)

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Since he died in 2002, the musical legacy of Waylon Jennings hasn't received nearly the attention it merits. Forty years ago, he and Willie Nelson, seeking creative self-determination battled to free themselves from the control of Nashville record producers, the essence of the Outlaw movement. It's safe to say Jennings would flip in his grave seeing Music Row now recasting "Outlaw" as a marketing hook applied to lightweight young singers braying shallow, tough talking lyrics over generic Nashville accompaniment.

This is the second of a three-volume tribute (Volume 1 appeared last year) and has the blessing of Mr. Jennings' widow, singer Jessi Colter, and son Shooter. Most selections draw from his best-known material. Dierks Bentley offers a masterful rendition of "Lonesome, On' ry and Mean" and Montgomery Gentry add the right jocular edge to "Good Ol' Boys," the theme to TV's "Dukes of Hazzard."

Ms. Colter offers her composition, "Mama," and "Waymore's Blues" receives a searing treatment from Hank Williams, Jr. Jack Ingram, one of Mr. Jennings' younger friends, is as comfortable with "Bob Wills is Still the King" as Pat Green is with "Rainy Day Woman." Teenage traditional singer Wyatt McCubbin proves his potential with "A Long Time Ago," which delivers power, not posturing.

Other performances fall flat. Jewel's "Dreaming My Dreams" is characteristically lightweight and one-dimensional, as is Josh Thompson's mundane "Love of the Common People." The worst of today's self-proclaimed "Outlaws," Justin Moore delivers an anemic "Ain't Livin' Long Like This." While the pre-Outlaw hit "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line" lends itself to rap, Colt Ford's listless take doesn't begin to do it justice. All told, it's a worthy tribute, if an uneven one.

First Published 2012-02-15 23:44:54

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