In the Beginning: A Songwriter's Tribute to Garth Brooks
IN THE BEGINNING features performances by the original songwriters of songs performed by or co-written with Garth Brooks. Recorded at Station West, Berry Hill, Tennessee. Includes liner notes by Jay Orr. Tributee: Garth Brooks. Song List: … see full wiki
Cons: Flat, dull, lifeless singing by songwriters who have great talent. Just not singing talent.
The Bottom Line: A unique idea - the original songwriters singing the hits - goes tragically astray. Somewhere, Garth Brooks is laughing and the songwriters are in embarrassed seclusion.
I remember long ago, I found a cassette of a band I liked for dirt-cheap so I bought it. When I went to listen to it, I was aghast! It wasn't the band at all. It was A Tribute to The Band by artists who butchered the songs and made my head hurt.
I never bought another album, cassette, or CD with songs paying tribute to artists. I don't get it. Why not just buy the real thing?
Well, the day has come. I own another tribute CD. But I didn't buy it. It was part of a gift package sent to me by a company as a way of thanking me for promoting a project of theirs on one of my websites.
I usually appreciate any gift - and I do appreciate this one - but I sure don't appreciate what these artists did to my beloved Garth Brooks' music.
About this CD
IN THE BEGINNING features performances by the original songwriters of songs performed by or co-written with Garth Brooks. Recorded at Station West, Berry Hill, Tennessee.
In The Beginning: A Songwriter's Tribute To Garth Brooks
This 2001 tribute CD is unique in that the songs are sung by the songwriters and co songwriters of Brooks' big hits. Unique, yes. Good? Ehh, no. Its hard to take a well-known, wonderfully performed song and do it justice, especially when the singers are really songwriters.
Some songs don't make my ears bleed but none live up to Garth's versions and, when I listen to this CD, I long for the real singer's arrangements and voice and generally quickly switch to the real Garth Brooks or just sit and silence rather than suffer through the whole CD.
1. The Thunder Rolls - Pat Alger/Stephanie Davis
This song is one of my favorites and wow, did these people manage to make a soulful, sad song bland. It sounds to as if Pat Alger was reading the words, not performing them. The song stays true to its tune but it comes off as flat and dull, something this song about cheating, lying, and confrontation most certainly isn't.
2. A New Way To Fly - Kim Williams/Kent Blazy/Stephanie Davis
I have never heard Garth's rendition of this song but I can't imagine him singing it the way these people did. It sounds like an old 50's tune with attempted harmony that falls flat. By the way, Kim Williams is a very low voiced man. I thought, when I saw the name, a woman would be singing it. Not so. And not good.
3. Unanswered Prayers - Pat Alger
Another great song that comes off dull and flat. Alger tries to put his own spin on the tune which only makes the song more annoying. Brooks made this song about not getting what he prayed for and being grateful in hindsight that he didn't mean something. Alger makes it dull.
4. Face To Face - Tony Arata
This one isn't awful. I can bear to listen to it and not throw up a little in my mouth. I think Arata actually has the best sense of who and what Brooks is and captures it better than the rest.
If Tomorrow Never Comes - Kent Blazy
Garth sings this one from the heart and I really love it. This version isn't really awful; it's just some guy singing a Garth Brooks song. The arrangement is exactly the same so it sort of comes off as karaoke. It's not terrible but doesn't rival the original.
Rodeo - Larry Bastian/Kent Blazy/Pat Alger
A trio is back and butchering a song again. We're back to the 50's with corny music and corny voices. Rodeo is a song that really needs a special voice and depth to not come off corny. Brooks does it. These guys don't even try to be contemporary. Not good.
Mr. Blue - Dewayne Blackwell/Stephanie Davis
I'm not Jewish but this merits an "oy". It's dreadful. The harmony and background vocals remind me of an old time barbershop quartet and the vocals are flat. This one isn't just not good. It's awful.
The River - Victoria Shaw/Kent Blazy/Pat Alger/Kent Blazy/Tony Arata
This song has long been an inspiration to me and I was afraid to hear what was done to it. Because a woman sings this, it's much easier not to compare her to Brooks. She is actually pretty good but sings the song too fast and without the depth of Brooks. This one isn't killer bad. It's an OK female version of a wonderful Brooks classic. The guys jump in for harmony, which isn't needed and distracts from the song.
Cold Shoulder - Kent Blazy/Pat Alger/Stephanie Davis
Blazy has a decent voice. The others really should have stayed quiet. This one would be decent and passable without the background duo trying to harmonize.
We Shall Be Free - Stephanie Davis/Pat Alger/Kent Blazy
This song has sentimental value for me. When my son was only four years old and very ill, he would listen to this song over and over again for some reason. He just loved it (and The Red Strokes). I love this one too for the message and emotion that Brooks conveys. Stephanie Davis butchers this song in a way that should be outlawed. I didn't even recognize the song for a few minutes. Absolutely terrible.
Cowboy Bill - Larry Bastian/Pat Alger/Kent Blazy
Larry returns, taking country music back at least 30 years. It's clear that his style is old school crooning. If you like that stuff, you may like this song. I don't like it.
Papa Loved Mama - Kim Williams/Kent Blazy
Baritone Kim is back with some corny music and a really bad rendition of a really good song. Brooks makes us feel the emotions of a kid whose father is gone all the time driving a truck while his mom is off cavorting with other men - and the fallout when his father comes home early and finds out. Williams just sings the words.
Wolves - Stephanie Davis
Stephanie Davis has a voice reminiscent of Alison Kraus and this song is actually quite beautiful. She does a good job here unlike her failed attempt to sing We Shall Be Free in a way that was at least tolerable. This is the one song on the CD that I like.
My first thought when I saw this song on the play list was, "My Lord, what will these people do to this timeless cult favorite?" Butchered it. All five sing the song together for the most part, similar to when Brooks hands the song over to the live audience for the last verse. The live audience sings it better than these people. It hurt to hear this song done this way. Everyone wants to sing Friends in Low Places but most are smart enough not to. I guess these songwriters were fearless. Or dumb. Either way, it's an ear-punishing rendition of a favorite Garth Brooks song.
15. The Dance - Tony Arata
We played this song at my mother's wake and my sisters and I were front and center only weeks later during a Garth Brooks concert when he sang this, seemingly looking directly at us most of the time. I didn't even want to listen to someone else's version. But I did. Luckily, Arata is the best male solo singer of the bunch and he didn't make me cry from killing a song that means so much to me. I didn't cry from emotion like I do when Brooks sings it but still, I was greatly relieved that the song was just not as good as the original and not a disaster like some of the others.
16. Pains - Dewayne Blackwell
The last song on the CD is weird. It's Friends in Low Places sung solo with some other stuff thrown in later and well I have no idea what the object of the last song is. Pains, indeed. This entire CD gave me pains. In my ears and in my heart for having to listen to songwriters trying to be singers and butchering most of the songs they wrote in the process.
They say those who can, do and those who can't, teach. In this case, its singers who can, do and singers who can't, write. They should continue writing songs and leave the magic of bringing the songs to life to Garth Brooks.
I am not a fan of tribute albums because it is just so hard to keep from comparing the new versions with the originals. However, some tribute albums are actually pretty decent and take some risks that work. This one is neither decent nor risky. I wonder if the writers were so fed up with Garth Brooks having all the glory that they decided to prove that they could sing as well as they could write. They can't. If they could, they would be the superstar singers, not Garth Brooks, don't you think?
This one is a waste of money and time. Pass it by and don't even think twice. There are other Garth Brooks tribute CDs out there by real singers that have to be better than this train wreck if you like that sort of thing.
1 tiny star for the songwriters who wanted to be big stars. This CD was released in 2001 and, almost six years later, none of these names are breakout country singing stars that I know of. Are they talented? Yes. But with a pen not a microphone.
Great Music to Play While: Sleeping
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