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  • Por Vida: A Tribute To The Songs Of Alejandro Escovedo
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Por Vida: A Tribute To The Songs Of Alejandro Escovedo

17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 27, 2004
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Por Vida: A Tribute To The Songs Of Alejandro Escovedo + Gravity + Man Under the Influence
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Stricken with Hepatitis C in April 2003 and lacking health insurance, Alejandro Escovedo has been the focus of scores of benefit concerts in Austin, Texas, and across the U.S. These 32 songs offer further aid--and a dizzying, daring appraisal of a brilliant, if commercially hard-luck, songwriter. Opening with Lucinda Williams's slurred, Spartan electric groove, the set covers the obscure ("Sacramento & Polk," in a manic paranoid take by Lenny Kaye) and the exquisite (the road-weary ballad "Thirteen Years," in a stately, aching reading by Tejano legend Ruben Ramos). Those familiar with the restless style-shifting of Escovedo's career won't be surprised by the juxtaposition of Ian Hunter's bar-band strut with the Jayhawks' psychedelic wall of delay, or Peter Case's glam garage with Bob Neuwirth's unguarded, accordion-laced sigh. Surprises include a poignant vocal turn from keyboard legend Ian McLagan, a reunited and stunningly revived Son Volt, and Escovedo himself, charging through a new tempo-twisting rocker cut just before he fell ill. There is tangible enthusiasm, even love, in the performances of these wildly diverse admirers. --Roy Kasten

From the Artist

Alejandro Escovedo is one of the most critically acclaimed artists in contemporary music, hailed by Rolling Stone critic David Fricke for creating "his own genre" and named Artist of the Decade for the 1990s by No Depression magazine. Widely admired for the stylistic breadth and innovation of his compositions and his facility for translating his personal experiences and observations into universal truths, he fell ill from the effects of Hepatitis C in April 2003.

The music community responded to his health crisis and its financial repercussions with a stunning outpouring of generosity and concern that culminates in Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo. On the two disc set, 31 acts from across the musical spectrum – including Escovedo’s friends, family, peers, influences and admirers – offer their inspired interpretations of his material, packaged with liner notes by famed critic Dave Marsh. A portion of the proceeds from this release will benefit the Alejandro Escovedo Medical & Living Expense Fund as well as a developing effort to develop an ongoing assistance effort for musicians afflicted with Hepatitis C.


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 27, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Or. Music
  • ASIN: B0002E5O9Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,870 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By B. Niedt on December 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
You may wonder, who is this guy and why does he deserve a 2-CD tribute? But by the time you get halfway through the first disc, you'll wonder no more: Alejandro Escovedo is a flat-out brilliant songwriter. His music has moved through genres, without losing his sensibility for both roots-rock and his Mexican heritage. Suffice to say that if you like Los Lobos (even though they don't appear), you'll really enjoy this CD. In the same tradition as "Sweet Relief" (the tribute to Victoria Williams, who was stricken with MS about ten years ago), and other albums after it, this project was intended to assist Escovedo, who has hepatitis C and no health insurance. And what assistance he got: a first-rate lineup of artists, from Lucinda Williams, Son Volt and the Jayhawks to Charlie Musselwhite, Ian Hunter and John Cale. Just about everything here works very well, kicking off with Lucinda Williams' great version of "Pyramid of Tears", moving through hot property Los Lonely Boys' cover of "Castanets", and many other highlights by Cowboy Junkies, Chris Stamey, and Escovedo himself. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up (it's a bargain for a 2-CD set with nary a bad track on it). Then, if you haven't already, acquaint yourself with the original albums from this influential and gifted Mexican-American artist.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gavin B. on June 20, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I'm skeptical of tribute albums and there are a dozen good reasons why nearly all tribute albums fail. The general rule of thumb and the best argument against tribute albums is that the original artist has already recorded the definitive version of the song. Tribute albums inevitably invite comparisons to the original versions and more often than not, come up short.

I steered clear of "Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo" on the grounds of caveat emptor; let buyer beware of the uneven quality of most tribute albums. It was unlikely that even the most gifted interpreter would offer any fresh insights into Escovedo's soulful renditions of his own music. My curiosity finally got the best of me and I finally purchased "Por Vida" a month ago.

Alejandro Escovedo has walked a rough path as a musician since he appeared on the music scene in the Seventies. He's so uniquely talented it's diffcult to pidgeon hole and market him as an musician. Success has been within Escovedo's reach but just beyond his grasp for too many years.

Escovedo's songwriting talent and body of work is on par with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen or any other great contempory songwriters. You seldom hear Escovedo's name mentioned in the same conversation about relative merits of great comtemporary songwriters, like his noteworthy peers.

"Por Vida", as it turns out, is welcome exception to the rule of law. It is a testament to the universal nature of Escovedo's song writing and his music flatters nearly every artist on this sprawling two disc album. It's a dizzying array of styles that showcases 32 wildly varied music acts with over hundred musicians in the various bands.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jon on July 28, 2004
Format: Audio CD
With an All Star alt-country lineup featuring everybody from Los Lonely Boys, Lucinda Williams, Catlin Cary (Whiskeytown), the Jayhawks, and Calexico to Steve Earle, there is no way this CD could have been bad. Every song is great, but standout tracks are Los Lonely Boys on Castanets, Sheila E. and Pete Escovedo on The Ballad of the Sun and the Moon (changing the song up quite a bit from the excellent version that was on the By the Hand of the Father CD), and the always excellent Ruben Ramos on the beautiful Thirteen Years. But as good as these covers are, most of the songs were sung perfectly the first time around by Alejandro himself, and not everyone is capable of keeping up with the original. Still, it is great to hear different takes on these songs, and the last track shows Alejandro hasn't lost any of the magic.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Hallman on January 20, 2005
Format: Audio CD
If you can't find something on this that you think is first-rate, you don't like music. There are one or two weak cuts, but the best songs here are simply amazing. The Section Quartet's take on "Crooked Frame" was a revelation. Other highlights include the John Dee Graham cover of "Helpless", Peter Case's "The End", and the Dragons' version of "Gravity". I've already bought four CDs on the basis of what I've heard on this one, and I will be buying more.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By sundancekeed on August 11, 2004
Format: Audio CD
An uplifting and surprisingly cohesive album considering both the artists and styles represented. Of course, all of the songs are by Alejandro Escovedo but the bredth of genres he's made music in and excelled at is impressive on it's own. Highlights for me are a reformed and excellent sounding Son Volt, Ian Hunter, who sounds as good as he did in his Mott The Hoople Days, Lucinda Williams who can't seem to record a lousy track and Alejandro's own cut which quickly demonstrates why I have all of his albums. He's simply a great singer/songwriter and I hope that he beats the disease that he's having to fight.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. Corkran on October 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I can echo what has been already said. For Al Escovedo fans (they had been bouncing anxiously from one foot to another waiting for its release!) it is a no brainer. For alt country fans, you can't go wrong because this is the best tribute cd of all time because it is a two volume set and instead of finding 3, 4, or 5 tracks you really like, you really can fill an entire cd with the stuff you really like; there is that much to love! So for any alt country fan is a no brainer. For those of you who rock but are uncertain what alt country is. Alt country is in part rock and Alejandro Escovedo has few peers in the quality and quantity of hard rocking tracks he has written. My guess is that most rock fans would find much more to love about this cd than most rock cds.
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