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Various Artists

Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers – 2003 (Universal South)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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All-star cast "tribute" albums have become almost passe, and in many cases lately have been downright pretentious, self-serving and trite, but this Louvin Brothers tribute works. The main reason is that the roster of country stars on this set (including one of Johnny Cash's final appearances) takes the title seriously.

The focus here is on the monumental body of songs left by Charlie Louvin and his late brother Ira (who died in 1965), and these latter-day stars wisely do not try to emulate or imitate the un-duplicatable harmony the Louvins literally defined an entire genre of country music with. There were many "brother duets," but no one did it quite like the Louvins. With the focus instead on the songs themselves, there's a lot to treasure on this disc, and while some takes don't work quite as well as others (Glen Campbell and Leslie Satcher doing "When I Stop Dreaming," for example), it's all pretty good, with the highlights provided by Patty Loveless and Carl Jackson on "Are You Teasing Me" and Alison Krauss with James Taylor doing "How's The World Treating You". And, for the gospel side of the Louvins, don't miss Del McCoury and Marty Stuart ripping through "Let Us Travel, Travel On."

Too often, "tribute" albums are done more as marketing exercises, but this one is worthy of the subject.