Various Artists

Rockin' Patriots

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Rhino's Rockin' Patriots is a bit odd, even if its heart is probably in the right place. It offers 18 songs about America and freedom. Sometimes, the songs fit this definition loosely, but not to the detriment of the collection, since it's so weird in the first place. And it's not weird because of the idea about rock songs about America is weird -- it's just that the selections are all over the map, containing a handful of hits ("Living in America," "American Pie," "We're an American Band") with critics' favorites (Joe Grushecky, Washington Squares, Randy Newman), covers of critics' favorites (Richie Havens doing Jackson Browne), little-known songs by stars like Glenn Frey and Alabama, cuts from little-knowns like Snakefarm and Tom Kimmel, an album track by Bon Jovi's guitarist Richie Sambora, and new tracks recording exclusively for this compilation, including a version of "This Land Is Your Land" by the head-spinning congregate of Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Jose Feliciano, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bill Miller, and Dar Williams. Whew. If the intention is to make this disc a melting pot like America, then they've succeeded, but that doesn't really make the disc listenable. The concept overrides the music and though there are many worthy artists here, the selections don't necessarily showcase them at their best. So, Rockin' Patriots winds up a bit like a novelty record, in the sense that it's novel -- it's an original idea, and executed well, but it's hard to imagine anybody listening to this all the way through more than once.

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