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5.0 out of 5 stars Randy Travis Fans Enjoy Magical 25th Anniversary Special Treat, June 7, 2011
This review is from: Randy Travis 25th Anniversary Celebration (Audio CD)
June 7 marks a special treat for Randy Travis fans. Not just an album of 17songs but a gift for every Randy Travis fan to savour. Two decades ago Randy released his award winning Duets album Heroes and Friends and now 21 years later, in fine vocal shape and joined by the biggest and best names in the industry, we have something special.
Fans familiar with the original `Few Old Country Boys' can enjoy a re-recording with Jamey Johnson and Randy who does his finest George Jones style phrasing (it's not actually GJ I do not think?). Although it lacks the opening dobro that worked so well on the original, this is a magnificent version. As a huge Jamey Johnson fan I had hoped for slightly more confident vocals from Jamey on this duet but maybe he is in awe of the great Randy who sings with much more passion on this one. Jamey picks it up a gear halfway through!
The album kicks off with the 100mph guitar, and vocals of Brad Paisley on `Everything And All' a fresh, original and unique track. It's like nothing a country artist has recorded before. It's got a catchy hook for a chorus that lesser artists would fail to handle.
The album is full of surprises. None more so than the reminder of just how great a vocalist Shelby Lynn is. While her career has found her stray from trad.country (much like her sister Alison Moorer) she is, at heart, a stunning country singer and the duet Promises is a fresh and beautiful remake of the hit Randy enjoyed years ago.
Just as one stunning track ends more shocking pleasures await. Who would have expected the delightful (in personality AND voice) Carrie Underwood to be singing a duet of `Is It Still Over' with Randy. Although this was always a personal favourite from R's early years, I never expected this to work as well as it does. It's is a pitch perfect rendition and it manages to highlight the fact that both should record much more together. Please!
More Life featuring The Eagles legend Don Henley will make a grown man cry. A gorgeous song about someone facing up to a terminal illness. The vocals and melody of this tune are stunning but heart-breaking. Not easy listening but a personal favourite.
One of Randy's biggest hits does not work, unfortunately, quite as well as expected, when covered by the Zack Brown Band. As much as I enjoy their music, it's Randy who shines on this song and not ZBB. It's an awkward vocal merger that is recorded in a different tempo and possibly key to the original hit. Yes, it's a fun and relaxed recording that sounds like a group of guys on a front porch and in that context it's perfectly decent. I'm growing to enjoy it more and more with each listen so feel free to ignore this negativity.
Kenny Chesney is the artist invited to join Randy on one of his most striking hit's `He Walked On Water'. Do their voices work well together? You bet they do! They almost sound like brothers. Kenny Chesney is another artist who had been inspired by RT in his career and it's such an influence that has clearly produced such a vocal ability. Listen carefully and you can hear Kenny phrasing his notes RT style.

Another surprise pairing that works very well is the Eamonn McCrystal duet `Someone You Never Knew'. Eamonn is a young Christian/Inspirational singer who is managed by Lib Travis and does not possess a particularly country music tone. However, together their voices complement each other perfectly on this track. It's very striking listening at this particular time in R's personal life. Possibly my personal favourite track it reminds me of the Garth Brooks song "She's Every Woman".
James Otto, has achieved recent country radio success despite not being particularly country in style. However the track `Too Much' really works. He has a more bluesy style that merges well with R's delivery on this strong `good for radio' upbeat track. It's a grower.
Those who loved Heroes and Friends are in for a treat as Randy teams up with a host of country music legends on the track `Didn't We Shine'. While not as immediately catchy as Heroes, it is equally as emotional in message and delivery. It features George Jones, Ray Price, Lorrie Morgan, Joe Stampley, Gene Watson & Connie Smith. It's perfect Opry material and is clearly about the group of legends looking back at their life and careers. If this is ever to be performed at the Opry, I'll give $100 to the first heads up.
Randy has re-recorded his hit Diggin' Up Bones with his great friend and fellow country artist John Anderson. It's a fresh and enjoyable new recording. It doesn't just work well, it works PERFECTLY! I've always loved Anderson's hit's Straight Tequilla Night and Seminole Wind but have never rated his voice as being up there with other country artists. On this song my opinion is changed.
Fans of new country star (and all round nice guy) Josh Turner will know that while he influenced the latest young Idol winner Scotty McCreery, Josh himself was influenced by Randy Travis. Both are from Carolina, both possess perfect baritone voices the track T.I.M.E is an upbeat, catchy song that is far higher quality than your regular Saturday night foot warmer.
The great Alan Jackson who co-wrote `She's Got The Rhythm' joins Randy for a medley of that track and `Better Class of Losers'. As Jackson says at the end he `nailed it'. Actually, they both nailed the entire medley. It sounds as fresh and alive as if it was recorded when both vocals were 20 years less stress away.
`Love Looks Good On You' initially my least favourite track is a duet with singer Christen Chenoweth and it is rapidly growing on me. In fact, like some of the best pieces of music, it's the slow growers that are often of higher quality. She has a voice that is nothing short of stunning and is reminiscent of Patsy Cline. The duet partnership is an unusual choice considering how many female country artist could have been present (Reba, Tucker, Tillis) but it works.
`Can't Hurt A Man' performed with Tim McGraw is perfect for radio and is about 2 guys who have had enough heartache for a lifetime and now they are can't be hurt because they `can't feel nothing no more'. The recording sounds informal and somewhat lighthearted, like 2 guys in a bar room who've had a few beers and don't give a damn no more. Come on radio, this song is made for airplay!
Let me end this review with a special mention for the incredible Kris Kristofferson/Willie Nelson duet 'Road To Surrender'. It's classic Inspirational-Country of the finest quality. A song about honest men talking to God about their fears and feelings. It's special to hear 3 legends sing such a meaningful stripped down ballad. It's just slightly reminiscent of an inspirational version of `Pancho And Lefty'.
A wonderful 25th Anniversary gift for all Randy Travis fans.
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