Review – Alabama ‘Alabama & Friends’
I don't usually get too excited when artists cover another artist's songs. Especially when you have people covering the likes of Alabama. You just don't mess with perfection.
It's crazy to think that Alabama has been around for 40 years. Over the course of their career they have topped the charts with over 30 singles and sold over 70 million albums. To celebrate 40 years of awesomeness, the group decided to release a tribute album that includes the likes of Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Kenny Chesney putting their vocal talent on some of the Alabama classics we all love.
The first track on the album is Alabama's first #1 single, Tennessee River. Jason Aldean opens the upbeat tune and really puts a rock feel to it. It isn't overbearing by any means and I think fans will appreciate it because it still has an Alabama vibe to it. Randy Owen joins Jason as the song progresses and they even add a new verse to it. I will be honest, this is my favorite track on the album. The remake doesn't stray too far from the original, but just enough to make it interesting.
Luke Bryan takes on Love in the First Degree. I wasn't sure how I would feel about this because it is one of my favorite Alabama songs. This song sounds like one Luke might record today, so it was a perfect fit. He does an amazing job on the vocals and I wouldn't mind seeing what kind of dance moves he can put to this song!
The third track is Old Flame, another song I really like, which is covered by Rascal Flatts. I was a little disappointed with this one. Gary LeVox and Randy Owen have drastically different vocal ranges and it's hard to listen to Gary's high pitched voice sing this song. It sounds more pop than country. With that being said, I don't dislike it but I don't think this was the right song for Rascal Flatts to record.
You can't go wrong with Kenny Chesney and he does a darn good job with Lady Down on Love. He mirrors Randy's mellow vocals well and it's not a whole lot different from the original. I notice this with many songs that Kenny covers -- he doesn't mess with perfection, he just makes his vocals as close to the original as he can. That's an admirable talent and when he joins forces with Randy on the song, the world just seems right.
The Eli Young Band tackles The Closer You Get. This is another one that I really just wasn't sure of. There's a noticeable difference in vocals but it definitely works. The combination of Randy and Mike Eli's voices is definitely a winning one. This song has a rock feel to it and they amp it up just a little more, which makes it an even better tune to jam out to.
I really struggled with Trisha Yearwood covering Forever's As Far As I'll Go. It's one thing to take a song that was originally recorded by a male and have another male remake it. It's a whole different ball game when you have a female do it. I don't know what I was thinking though, Trisha is one of the best female voices in country music. Her soft, melodic voice putting this song in the female perspective was genius. Add Randy's vocals to it and my gosh, you've got yourself another winner.
She and I was a great choice for Toby Keith to remake. There's a rockin' sound to his voice that we don't often hear and it's refreshing. Both Randy and Toby have a bit of a gravelly sound to their voices that suits this song very well.
Florida Georgia Line is not my favorite musical act out there today but they shocked me with I'm In A Hurry (And Don't Know Why). It doesn't sound too much like the original and it's definitely got a more funky rock feel to it. I'm impressed, I really like it -- as evidenced by the fact that I was rocking out to it on my way to work this morning.
Alabama put two new tracks on the album, That's How I Was Raised and All American. Both are slower tunes that take the listener back to days gone by. All American is especially relevant to today because it calls politicians out on the lying and the current state of the country. If nothing else, they get the listener thinking about what's going on today.
The last tune, My Home's In Alabama, is covered by Jamey Johnson. I love his voice and his he really does an incredible job on this song. Pair his voice with Randy's and it just sounds crazy awesome.
Overall, I believe this album deserves a huge two thumbs up. It has to be hard to remake the song of a legendary group but every one of these performers put their own touch on the song without taking away from the perfection of the original. I love it, I think if you're an Alabama fan you'll enjoy it too.