Various Artists – High Cotton: Tribute to Alabama
I really had no intentions of reviewing this album. Growing up, I loved Alabama, they were one of my favorite bands and I had a huge crush on Randy Owen that started around age 6. So I knew and liked all the songs on the album but I’m not a big fan of covers…with few exceptions…unless they are really original, otherwise, it’s just karaoke to me.
When I last saw the Turnpike Troubadours, they played ‘If You’re Gonna Play in Texas’ and it was good (it’s a little more than karaoke with Kyle Nix sawing on the fiddle like that) BUT it sounded exactly like the Alabama version to me. And, since the song is almost 30 years old, I’m sure I’ve listened to it hundreds of times and I’ve seen plenty of cover bands do it too..
But then one day I found myself, again, spending half of my paycheck on iTunes and I got curious and listened to a few tracks and immediately bought the album. I knew I had to review it because I have plenty to say about it.
The album starts out with JD McPherson doing ‘Why Lady Why’. This is the kind of cover I like…it doesn’t sound anything like the original and I really think I like this version better. It’s bluesy and sultry and I love it!
Dixieland Delight is another one that sounds very similar to the original but it seems a perfect fit for Old Crow Medicine Show. Oddly enough, it is only after listening to the OCMS version that I am just now learning the real lyrics to this song. As a kid I always thought (confidently enough that I never needed to look it up) that the lyrics were “Spend my dollar; parked in a holler ‘neath the mountain moonlight; hold her
Uptight; make a little lovin’, it’ll turn an oven on a Mason Dixon night.”
I thought ‘turning an oven on’ meant things were gettin’ pretty hot in that holler….apparently the words are actually “a little turtle-dovin’“….what does that even mean?
I’m also not a huge fan of the version of Lady Down on Love by Bob Schneider & Texas Bluegrass Massacre, Ray Benson. All of the verses are spoken and I definitely prefer the original.
I love Shonna Tucker’s version of ‘Roll On’ and this one isn’t a whole lot different. I think the female voice makes it different enough though. This song reminds me of how, for a short time, when I was young, I wanted to be a trucker. Who could blame me with so many great songs about big rigs like this one, Kathy Mattea’s ’18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses’ and my favorite ‘Bonnie Jean (Peterbilt a Truck for a Man to Drive)’
But back to this amazingly awesome review….’High Cotton’ is another example of one that I think was done better on this album, it’s slowed down and super smooth. T. Hardy Morris does this one with a female but the iTunes album doesn’t credit her . Does anyone know who that is? Is that Amanda Shires? Anyway, it’s entirely different than the original and I love it!
When I first listened the intro of ‘I’m in a Hurry’ by Jessica Lea Mayfield I was digging it. It’s slowed waaaaay down and has kind of an alternative sound to it but I was hoping the tempo would pick up soon after the intro. It didn’t and I just can’t listen to that song without going into a trance. I don’t like it. If I had to listen to the whole song, start to finish, I would swear a whole year had gone by. My least favorite.
I’ll close with saying how much I ♥ ‘Love in the First Degree’ by Wade Bowen and Brandy Clark. The song is great as a duet and I love both of their voices. I’m only disappointed that I didn’t hear Wade Bowen sing it the other night when he was here in Denver.
I’d like to conclude my amazingly awesome review of High Cotton with my very favorite Alabama song that you will not find on High Cotton.