Various Artists

Big League Babe, Vol. 2: The Christine Lavin Tribute Album

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Though the two Christine Lavin tribute albums are tributes in the traditional sense -- they feature mostly songs written by Lavin done by other people -- they also fit into a more general category of records Lavin has been associated with previously, such as the various artists compilations On a Winter's Night and When October Goes, in that they provide a showcase for other performers. Like the first Big League Babe album, the second has a CD booklet filled with information about the people on the record, including their biographies, discographies and contact information. Lavin has always been as interested in promoting her friends' careers as her own. But especially because her own work is so idiosyncratic, sentimental, and, usually, funny, it works less well for others than it does for her, and that's as true of this album as it was of the first one. A somewhat less stellar lineup of artists nevertheless includes Buddy Mondlock (whose "Santa Monica Pier" catches its gentle satire), Sara Hickman (who can't redeem "The Dakota"), Dar Williams (duetting with Hugh Blumenfeld on "The Kind of Love You Never Recover From," which David Wilcox sang on the first album), and Patty Larkin (who contributes an instrumental version of "Prisoners of Their Hairdos"), along with other lesser-known folk performers and one Broadway star, James Naughton. None of the performances are as funny as Lavin's own (though the Brecht-Weill arrangement of "Sensitive New Age Guys" -- in German! -- is cute), nor as touching. And there is a curious emphasis on her more minor material. Too bad nobody had the guts to do "Damaged Goods," probably the best song she ever wrote.

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