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Neal McCoy

Pride: A Tribute to Charley Pride – 2013 (Slate Creek)

Reviewed by Sam Gazdziak

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CDs by Neal McCoy

Today, Charley Pride may be most known for blazing a trail as an African-American country singer in the segregation era, but he deserves to be remembered as a star country singer, not just a star African-American country singer. He was, after all, one of the most successful acts of his time, with a string of hits that any singer would envy. Pride's run of hit singles listed from the mid-1960s through the '80s, and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

Neal McCoy, who began his career as an opening act for Pride, has covered Pride's songs in concerts and on albums, but he has now released a full-scale tribute album. "Pride: A Tribute to Charley Pride" features some of the singer's best-known songs. A combination of an excellent vocalist and a collection of classic songs is practically fool-proof, and McCoy doesn't disappoint. His takes on songs like Just Between You and Me and Is Anybody Going to San Antone do justice to the originals. Guest vocalists Raul Malo (I'm Just Me), Darius Rucker (Kiss An Angel Good Morning) and Trace Adkins (Roll On Mississippi) all make excellent contributions. Adkins, in particular, uses his deep baritone to great effect on Mississippi, making it a highlight.

Then there's Kaw-Liga. This Hank Williams-penned song was an early hit for Pride, so its inclusion makes sense. However, much like the Washington Redskins' team name or the treatment of Native Americans in Disney's Peter Pan, the song is really, really dated.

With this release McCoy, has now released a tribute album, a studio album and a big-band collaboration with Les Brown Jr. within a year. That may seem like a lot of music in a short amount of time, but given the quality of his work, it's hard to argue with his schedule.