Black Music Matters Festival

Various Artists

Pearls In The Snow: The Songs of Kinky Friedman – 1998 (Kinkajou)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

CDs by Various Artists

The albums recorded by songwriter turned mystery writer Kinky Friedman never got much of an audience, and his idiosyncratic songs have not received much in the way of cover action. These obscure but worthy ditties are matched with renowned singers who likewise have less audience than they deserve. The result is an album that not only has more of a point than most tribute albums, but more entertainment value as well.

It's tough to single out just one or two highlights, though the first half of the album does outshine the second. Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam, Delbert McClinton and everyone else are in fine form. Tompall Glaser, who hit with Shel Silverstein's male chauvinist anthem "Put Another Log On The Fire" is matched with Friedman's equivalent "Get Your Biscuits In The Oven." Lee Roy Parnell could pass for Merle Haggard on "Nashville Casualty & Life." Friedman himself sings three tracks, including a medley of some of his classic songs otherwise omitted.

Friedman has a decidedly non-Politically Correct reputation, but this album shows that his songwriting covers a wide range of lyrical as well as musical ground. It's a fine showcase for everyone involved. ( or 1-877-999-9975).