Various Artists

A Tribute to Garth Brooks [Cleopatra]

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During 1998 and 1999, Cleopatra carved a niche for themselves in the tribute album market as the wacky label, the label that would dream up the weirdest combination of artists to be saluted and pay salute. A Tribute to Garth Brooks may seem like the strangest of all their tributes, since not only is a rock-based tribute to Brooks a little odd, but they've filled it with second-string artists. The most familiar name here is either Al Jardine (an original member of the Beach Boys, performing with his relative, Matt) or Denny Laine (a Moody Blue that became a Wing) or Spencer Davis & Carmine Appice, depending on your point of view. The rest of the album is comprised of contributions from one-time members of the McAuley-Schenker Group, Guns N' Roses, Chicago, REO Speedwagon, and the Desert Rose Band -- and, apart from Robin McAuley and Chicago's Jason Scheff, they're not really frontmen, either. So, there's not really a celebrity hook here, but there isn't a novelty hook, either, since everybody apart from Teddy "Zig Zag" Andreas (who tries to reimagine "Friends in Low Places" as a Cinderella number) plays it straight. Some of these aren't bad (Al & Matt Jardine's "Papa Loved Mama" is almost certainly the high point), but the album is never really interesting, either, making it of marginal interest to either hardcore Brooks fans or any curious listener convinced that a concept this warped would certainly be a hoot, or at least half-a-hoot.

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