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Asleep at the Wheel

Ride With Bob – 1999 (DreamWorks Nashville)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Asleep at the Wheel

On this collection of classic Bob Wills tunes Roy Benson and Asleep at the Wheel enlist the aid of a varied group of country luminaries. Merle Haggard, who did his own tribute album to Wills in the '70's, does a stellar version of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." Another natural is Don Walser, who checks in with "I Ain't Got Nobody."

Lyle Lovett, who has done his share of swinging with his Large Band, is joined by Shawn Colvin on a lovely duet of "Faded Love." Other highlights are Dwight Yoakam's take on "New San Antonio Rose" and Clint Black with Waylon Jennings' "Bob Wills is Still the King." Willie Nelson and the Manhattan Transfer are a perfect combination on the closing track "Going Away Party."

Throughout, AATW provide their usual impeccable musicianship. On "Bob's Breakdown" they are joined by Steve Wariner and Vince Gill on guitar, while the Squirrel Nut Zippers shine on "Maiden's Prayer." Though some performers (Tim McGraw, Reba) seem a bit out of place, Lee Ann Womack and Tracy Byrd are very effective.

For nearly three decades Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel have kept the Wills tradition alive. With "Ride With Bob," they also continue to expand their own legacy.