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The Encore Trend: Remakes Pay Tribute to Artists, Albums

October 15, 2000|RANDY LEWIS

Then: Mickey Newbury's "Frisco Mabel Joy" (1971)

Now: Newbury and the album are saluted in "Frisco Mabel Joy Revisited--for Mickey Newbury," a multi-artist remake just released by Appleseed Recordings.

The Background: Peter Blackstock, co-editor of the alternative-country magazine No Depression, grew interested in the music of Texas-born singer-songwriter Newbury after years of hearing his name dropped by progressive country and folk musicians. After buying a used copy of "Frisco Mabel Joy" for $1, Blackstock fell in love with it and dreamed up the album tribute as a way to help reawaken interest in Newbury.

The Rep: Newbury's best-known song, "An American Trilogy," was recorded by Elvis Presley and became his concert-closer in his final years. Newbury wrote hundreds of others recorded by dozens of artists. After a 15-year hiatus, he has resumed writing and recording. He has just put out "Stories From the Silver Moon Cafe" for a tiny label that issued an eight-CD set in 1998 with all 10 albums that Newbury, now 60, made between 1969 and '81. The label is re-releasing "Frisco Mabel Joy" as a single disc. More info:

The Players: Kris Kristofferson, Dave Alvin, Chuck Prophet, Victoria Williams, Bill Frisell and others.

Testimonial: "I like his character sketches," says Alvin. "And his albums had grand visions, which I like. . . . Newbury and Wayne Carson and people like that definitely influenced me. When I decided to be a songwriter, I'd try to sit down and do what they did, or adapt what they did to a mixture of rock and folk and R&B."

The Trend: Bruce Springsteen's 1982 solo acoustic album "Nebraska" is also the subject of an all-star remake. "Badlands: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska" arrives Nov. 7 from Sub Pop Records. Participants include Chrissie Hynde and Adam Seymour, Hank Williams III, Los Lobos, Ani DiFranco, Johnny Cash and others. Producer Jim Sampas asked musicians to record tracks the way Springsteen had done "Nebraska"--on a simple four-track machine. "A lot of these artists are used to 24- and 48-track equipment that's very sophisticated," Sampas says. "I thought it would be very challenging, something they'd enjoy doing in addition to paying tribute to Bruce Springsteen."

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