Catching Up With: Louis Armstrong, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, George Jones, Woody Guthrie and Muddy Waters

I have been meaning to do another roundup on new tribute projects and other archival releases, but every time I sit down to do one, there are new additions. Well, I am drawing the line in the sand today and patched together a sampler of (at least) some of the worthy titles that have popped up on my radar (did I mix some metaphors there?)

Aug. 19 saw the release of a couple cool tributes. Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit Of Satch, which finds Dr. John and his pals saluting the legendary Louie Armstrong. Randy Lewis did a nice write-up on this Concord release in the L.A. Times.

Kim Wilson, meanwhile, teamed up with Mud Morganfield to honor Morganfield’s father Muddy Waters. For Pops, which Severn Records released this week, salutes the blues great while marking his 100th anniversary.

On a lighter note, longtime Illinois rockers Enuff Z’nuff have done their version of their favorite tunes. Covered in Gold, which came out this past Tuesday on Cleopatra Records, includes tunes like “The Jean Genie,” “All Apologies,” “When Doves Cry” and “Tears of a Clown.”

Shooter Jennings

Shooter Jennings

Earlier this month, Shooter Jennings paid tribute to one of his idols, George Jones, with a dynamite little EP, Don’t Wait Up (For George), which came out on his BCR/Los Angeles label through Thirty Tigers. It contains his renditions of Jones gems like “She Thinks I Still Care” “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me” and “The Door” along with Jennings originals “Living In A Minor Key” and “Don’t Wait Up,” which he wrote for Jones who unfortunately passed away before he could record it. Jennings says his next project is a tribute to producer Giorgio Moroder, best known for his elaborate disco production work.

Coming later this autumn is the most talked-about reworking of Born To Run entitled Dead Man’s Town. Folks like Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, Trampled By Turtles, Justin Townes Earle, Low and others have reconceived the songs from this classic Springsteen album in some very interesting ways. It’s like they de-anthemized the songs and brought out new emotional richness to them. It will come out on Lightning Rod Records on Sept. 16 to commemorate the album’s 30th anniversary.

The latest “Red Hot” project will be a salute to the late singer/songwriter Arthur Russell, who passed away in 1992 due to AID-related causes. Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell, which has Nov. 21 release date through Red Hot Organization and Yep Roc Records, holds contributions from Devendra Banhart, Sufjan Stevens, Phosphorescent, The Autumn Defense, Glen Hansard, Sam Amidon and many others.


Mr. Bob Dylan is the subject of an intriguing tribute. Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes draws upon long-lost lyrics that Dylan penned in 1967. Producer T Bone Burnett matched up these lyrics with such artists as Elvis Costello, Jim James, Marcus Mumford and Rhiannon Giddons to create 20 new “old” Dylan covers. The CD will come out Nov. 11 via Electromagnetic Recordings/Harvest Records.

Chris Smither might not be as prominent a songwriter as Dylan but he certainly has some well-known friends. Bonnie Raitt, Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Mary Gauthier, Tim O’Brien and Loudon Wainwright III are a few of the folks who have recorded Smither songs for Link of Chain, a project that honors his 50 years of songwriting as well as his 70th birthday. Signature Sounds will release this on Sept. 30.

The Hollies turn 50 this year and Rhino has compiled a nifty 3-CD compilation – 50 At Fifty, which contains 50 (it makes sense, right?) of the British pop group’s top tunes. The collection spans the band’s history, from their first single – “(Ain’t That) Just Like Me” to their recently recorded “Skylarks.” In between are such beloved tracks as “Look Through Any Window,” “Bus Stop,” “On A Carousel,” “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress),” and my favorite “Carrie Anne.”


Power pop fans should tip their caps to the fine folks at Omnivore Recordings. This week, they released Failure, the breakout 1988 debut from the Posies. This reissue comes supersized with 8 bonus tracks. On October 7th, the label will put out the self-titled debut from TV Eyes, which was only released in Japan back in 2006. The band features power pop vets Jason Falkner, Roger Joseph Manning Jr. and Brian Reitzell. This CD contains the 9 tracks from the debut album plus 4 cuts from the group’s Softcore EP (which also was a Japanese-only title).

Omnivore doesn’t only mine the archives, they also put out new albums too. On Sept. 30, they will share the latest offering from Lloyd ColeStandards. This CD includes such guests as Matthew Sweet, Joan Wasser and Fred Maher. Cole fans should also note that he is part of the recently released Gramercy Arms album, which features Tanya Donnelly, Dave Derby and Wasser too.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention the upcoming My Name is New York Project: Ramblin’ Around Woody Guthrie’s Town. This 3-CD audio book contains a 2-disc audio walking tour of New York featuring recollections from Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and other, while the 3rd disc holds 16 NYC-centric songs of Guthrie’s and some new discoveries. The Guthrie Archives will release impressive addition to the Guthrie canon on September 23rd.


About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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