Various Artists

A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf

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Unlike most tribute albums, Telarc's A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf plays it pretty close to the vest, rounding up members of Wolf's backing band -- including guitarist Hubert Sumlin, pianist Henry Gray and drummer Sam Lay -- to support the musicians paying tribute. As a result, the album has a more coherent sound than most tribute records, but that doesn't mean that it's a perfect record. A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf suffers from uneven performances, just like any other tribute, but there are enough strong moments to pull the weak spots and poor Howlin' Wolf impressions. Artists as eclectic as Taj Mahal, Chrstine Ohlman, Cub Koda, Ronnie Hawkins and Lucinda Williams deliver spirited performances, capturing the sound and spirit of classic Wolf recordings. It may be a little hit-or-miss, but it packs enough of a wallop to be a genuine tribute to one of the mightiest bluesmen.

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