Just4Games

DTM 1127-2

Dressed in Black - A Tribute to Johnny Cash [Audio CD] Various Artists

As befits a release on a fledgling indie label, Dualtone's tribute to Johnny Cash celebrates the feistier fringes of the Man in Black's catalog, adding a few mainstream milestones. In what is plainly a labor of love for all concerned, highlights extend from the pop innocence of "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" by Rodney Crowell (formerly married to Johnny's daughter Rosanne) to the folkier strains and husband-and-wife harmonies of "Pack Up Your Sorrows" by Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis to the honky-tonk majesty of "I Still Miss Someone" by pianist Earl Poole Ball. Some of the more familiar touchstones don't fare quite as well, with Billy Burnette turning in a tepid "Ring of Fire" and Dale Watson singing in a lower than comfortable register on "I Walk the Line," though James Intveld rises to the challenge of "Folsom Prison Blues." The house band and the largely acoustic arrangements give the 18-cut album more unity than many such projects, as the collection shows why one of the most influential and commercially successful artists in country's history remains an icon of alt-country as well. --Don McLeese