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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 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
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. It's about as diverse a group of musicians as you'll ever hear including; John Cale, Lucinda Williams, Sheila E, Lenny Kaye, Calexico, Charley Musselwhite, Ian Hunter and the Mekons' Jon Langford and Sally Timms.

"Por Vida" may be only tribute genre album that delivers new rewards upon repeated playing. This tribute album is one that won't exiled to the shelf to collect dust after one or two spins. It wouldn't do justice to select two or three stellar cuts on the album, because each artist shines in the glow of Escovedo's beautiful music. Alejandro Escovedo is a songwriter for every season and every generation.

The fact that he's been stricken with often lethal Hepatitis C is yet another burden for Escovedo to carry. Escovedo, like most musicians, cannot afford the comprehensive insurance coverage to treat this deadly disease. All proceeds from this tribute album go the cost of his spiralling health care costs. Regardless of the musical merits of the album itself, it's about the best reason I can think of to purchase this album.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
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
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
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
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Maybe I'd been living under a rock or something... but I'd never heard of Alejandro Escovedo until this tribute came out. My interest was piqued by the All-Star roster of artists that performed. The first song I heard was "Paradise" by Steve Earle & Reckless Kelly. Now THAT just blew me away, so I delved farther and found a lot of great songs on this album. This all lead to buying each and evey album that Alejandro has done, including his stuff w/ Buick MacKane and True Believers. I felt as though I missed something very important up until that point. This isn't a bad place to start for those unexposed to the brilliance of the man. He can rock, he can swoon. Make you giggle, make you cry. Check this album out, then check out Alejandro's albums. You won't regret it! I swear!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2004
Format: Audio CD
By turns, moving and heartbreaking at the same time. The artists featured pay their respects and reinforce the beauty of Alejandro's vision. This may well be my album of the year.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Hey,

Guys, I just got this GREAT! New album called Por Vida. It is a Tribute to

the songs of Americana legend Alejandro Escovedo, who is struggling with

Hepatitis C. In honor of him, and to help him with his medical expenses,

there has been this Great! new compellation put together by some of

Americana's greatest artists. There are some really fabulous tracks! Some

of my favorites are Lucinda Williams' "Pyramid of Tears", Calexico's "Wave",

Los Lonely Boys' "Castanets", and Alejandro Escovedo himself singing "Break

This Time". The album also has some other great artists on it, is for a

really good cause, and is a must have!! Trust me!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2008
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I became aware of Alejandro Escovar just a month or two ago and just had the opportunity to see him live at Austin City Limits Music Festival in Sep 2008. This Austin songwriter/performer is the real thing. A critical bout with Hepatitis C created this gathering of artists to pay homage to his songwriting and fund his medical bills. Personally, I cannot find a song on this collection I do not like. What a thrill to first hear this compilation of his music and now be able to explore his other work. Get this album - you won't regret it.
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