Lee Hazlewood gets the Tribute treatment, thanks to City Slang Records, and I am happy to report that this is a fine collection of songs veering from the straightfoward cover to the more in depth arrangements.
Personally, I liked this collection a lot more than the many Tributes I've heard in recent years and I think that has a lot to do with the artists who are involved here. I also think that Lee brings out the collaborative nature in people, stemming from his duets with various ladies, including Nancy Sinatra, Ann-Margret and others. This adds a lot of excitement to the best tracks - and it should be noted that 10 out of the 16 tracks are collaborations.
Who hasn't wanted to sing a duet to a Lee Hazlewood song? Lee has already been covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret, Petula Clark, Dean Martin, Lydia Lunch, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Einsturzende Neubauten, Holly Golightly, and Nick Cave so he already has an astonishing array of talent that have voiced his words and music in song, so its not too big a stretch to think that there are many performers of the independent world of music who could interpret Lee Hazlewood. Here's a runthrough of my favorite tracks.
Track one is really an introduction (at a minute and a half) - things really get going on Madrugada and Neil McNasty's version of Come On Home to Me (originally from Lee's album Requiem For An Almost Lady) which has a haunting vocal over a groovy 60s sampled beat.
Track three, The Webb Brothers do Some Velvet Morning is good and faithful to the original, but they odn't add to much to it. Track four, Sundown, Sundown by Calexico and Valerie Leulliot (the singer from Autour de Lucie) captures the 60s rancho pablo feel of the song amazingly well.
Sleep in the Grass (track 5) by Johnny Dowd is an amazing duet with Kim Sherwood which alternates from sly peddle fiddling and pounding chorus.
Saint Etienne are at their catchy playful best - Sarah Cracknell dueting with Nathan Bennet on Got it together again (track 6).
Track 8, has Jarvis Cocker (of Pulp) & Richard Hawley (formerly of the Longpigs, now touring guitarist for Pulp) sounding like the Cramps or Gallon Drunk - with a drum machine - on the Cheat.
My favorite track on the compilation is We All Make the Flowers Grow (track 13) by Stephen Jones & Luke Scott (both are from Babybird) with a track so playfully deadly. It sounds like the perfect mix of Lee Hazlewood and Babybird.
It seems natural for Calvin Johnson to sing a Lee Hazlewood cover, but to be honest I wasn't crazy about his cover (with Mark Pickerel, drummer from the Screaming Trees) - it doesn't sound very well thought out - and I liked Holly Golightly's treatment of this song much better.
Summer Wine is one of my favorite Lee Hazlewood songs, and it starts out ok with Sabrina Brooke (from Drawn Butter) - until Even Dando's (from the Lemonheads) computerized vocals ruin it.
Rounding out my favorite tracks is track 16 If it's Monday Morning a collaboration between Kid Loco and Tim Keegan (from Departure Lounge) which has some great rhythms and samples used by Kid Loco and a great low-voiced vocal by Tim.