Time was when tribute albums were for those no longer among the living. Not even Elvis or Hank Williams were rendered the treatment until after their deaths.
Yet, a new release honors Luke the Drifter's boy. No, Hank Jr. has not died. Perhaps best of all about this set is that Bocephus' long-underrated catalog gets a good look. Worst of all, but one example ("Eleven Roses" as performed by Trace Adkins) comes from his stellar pre-"Family Tradition" days.
That said this album yields several fine covers, not the least of which comes via Montgomery Gentry on "Women I've Never Had." Likewise Tracy Lawrence handles "Outlaw Women" with aplomb. Ditto Alan Jackson's impeccable "The Blues Man." All does not smell of red roses. Trick Pony's take on "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" rocks loud enough, but provides little punch. Worse, Aaron Tippin's mistaken turn with "Family Tradition" offers a more rocking yet far blander version than Hank Jr's classic. Some songs should be left alone.
Hank Jr. caps his own tribute album with a reprise of "Outlaw's Reward," one of his most over-looked though finest tunes. A slew of guests help him sing, yet the presence of a harp-blowing Stevie Wonder serves as testimony to Hank Jr's importance. Yes, importance. Look past his macho persona and you'll find one of country's greatest singer-songwriters. Ever.