Regardless of the greatness of an artist's work or the good intentions of loyal acolytes, most tribute albums tend to be half-baked affairs. Complaintants usually insist that the new versions copy the originals too closely or some young whippersnapper changed things around too much. And indeed, the pairings are often baffling -- Hootie covering Led Zep? What were they thinking?
Fortunately for fans of folk icon Woody Guthrie, the recently released "'Til We Outnumber 'Em" does a number of things right. The performances were captured live and acoustic back in 1996, and this stripped, intimate formula stays true to the community spirit of Guthrie's work but allows for touches of individual style. The selections, from Bruce Springsteen's take on the lighthearted "Riding in My Car" to Ani DiFranco's brooding "Do Re Me," introduce newcomers to Guthrie's diverse and influential work. Die-hard folkies will certainly approve.