[25 September 2008]
Despite the big mouth and poor judgement that got him in trouble recently, radio host Don Imus is a pretty good guy. He and his wife Dierdre run the Imus Ranch, an actual working ranch which hosts children who are afflicted with cancer and their families. This album has been in the works for quite some time, having been put on hold when Imus made his notorious remarks about a certain women’s basketball team in 2007. Yet when each participating artist (including Little Richard, Willie Nelson, Levon Helm, and others) was polled, they all chose to remain involved with Imus and his charity.
The album features these stars singing classics both country and pop. Patty Loveless kicks it off with a breathtaking bluegrassy version of Stevie Nicks’ “Silver Springs”, while Lucinda Williams turns “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” into a mournful dirge that reveals the pathos hidden in the old Waylon and Willie duet. Even if the proceeds weren’t going to a good cause, The Imus Ranch Record is a must-purchase. Sure there are some missteps; actually there’s only one: Big & Rich’s appalling, semi-rewritten cover of Beastie Boys classic “Fight For Your Right To Party” that makes one wish for the sweet silence of burst eardrums. However, much like the man himself, the good of this album far outweighs the bad.