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Various Artists

NASHVILLE OUTLAWS: A Tribute To Motley Crue – 2014 (Big Machine)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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If you're expecting down home, countrified versions of metal band Motley Crue songs from "Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Motley Crue," you probably don't listen to a whole lot of mainstream "country" music. Most likely, this album's original conception was a rather crass attempt to capitalize on the large contingent of classic rock fans that also listen to and enjoy older rock's continuing influence on contemporary country music. And for the most part, that's exactly what the album sounds like.

When it comes to rocking out, Gretchen Wilson sounds much more at ease describing crazy living during "Wild Side," than the clean cut Rascal Flatts cranking it up with "Kickstart My Heart." "If I Die Tomorrow" also fits nicely with Florida Georgia Line's southern rock affinities.

Even so, there are also a few musical delights reserved for fans of traditional country music, too. Aaron Lewis proves once again what a fine country singer he is on the traditional "Afraid," whereas Clare Bowen shows off a lovely, Alison Krauss-like vibrato during her duet with Sam Palladio on "Without You."

This release also includes a few sonic re-imaginations. The Mavericks transform "Dr. Feelgood" into a Latin jazz version of the song that makes it sound like something off of Los Lobos' wonderful "Kiko" album, while LeAnn Rimes rethinks "Smokin' in the Boys Room" as a juke joint workout, complete with a jazzy trombone solo. Ah, if only the whole album could have been this much fun!

In a couple of instances, artists pick songs that fit right into their stylistic wheelhouses. Justin Moore's "Home Sweet Home" sounds just like, well, a Justin Moore song, whereas the same can be said of the banjo-colored "Time for a Change" by Darius Rucker.

It would be impossible to create a truly great Motley Crue covers album, simply because of the flimsy source material. Therefore, these country artists do pretty darn well, considering what they're given.