REVIEW: Various Artists’ “Tribute To JJ Cale Volume 1: The Vocal Sessions”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic J.J. Cale is a singer/songwriter/musician who should be familiar to most blues rock enthusiasts, as he has been a major influence for many musicians for over 40 years. Tribute To JJ Cale Volume 1: The Vocal Sessions (Zoho Roots) shows how Cale was influenced by some of the best in blues, rock, and country, and simply wanted to share that admiration through his music. This CD brings together a diverse range of artists to honor Cale for his impact on their lives.

Swamp Cabbage present themselves with five songs, two on their own (“Cajun Moon” and “Same Old Blues”), two featuring Jimmy Hall (“Sensitive Kind” and “Don’t Cry Sister”), and one with J.J. Grey (“Money Talks”). As a collective, these tracks show how rural good blues-based rock can still sound, regardless of who is playing it. One of my favorite bands, Rufus Huff, take the FM radio staple “Cocaine” (written by Cale, then covered and made famous by Eric Clapton in 1976), put it in a thicker and steamier pot of hard rock and offer it back to its creator.

The acapella group The Persuasions are legends in their own right, and together take their vocal skills to do “Travelin’ Light” and the moving “I’ll Make Love To You Anytime”. Guitarist Greg Skaff closes the album with two tracks, “Don’t Wait” (featuring Darryl Johnson) and “Money Talks” (featuring Jimmy Hall), and helps to drive the message home with the gospel influence that was a part of Cale’s music. You can almost imagine the grass and moss as the crickets in the background.

Tribute To JJ Cale Volume 1: The Vocal Sessions is the type of “super album” one would have praised in the same way similar albums were praised in the early 1970’s, when they were events. It was the idea that these musicians and songs should not be museum pieces, but if they were, they should be respected the same way some honor battleships.

Yes, this is Volume 1, as an all instrumental album will follow very soon.