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John Prine/Mac Wiseman

Standard Songs For Average People – 2007 (Oh Boy)

Reviewed by Steven Freedman

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CDs by John Prine/Mac Wiseman

Pairing fine wine with a delectable entree is the province of the restaurateur. Bringing together John Prine and Mac Wiseman to record an album of duets was a stroke of genius initiated by country music legend "Cowboy" Jack Clement. Prine and Wiseman are in total sync with each other. Whether trading off vocals or harmonizing, they bounce off each other nicely.

The amazing aspect about this 14-track compilation of cover songs is that it spans a wide array of musical genres running the gamut from pure C&W to folk, easy listening, rockabilly and bluegrass.

Both principals are adept at making these songs their own, and at the same time, they preserve the integrity of the original hit versions.

A laid-back and mellow style lends itself well to their renditions of classics such as Elvis Presley's 1955 hit "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" and Lefty Frizzell's "Saginaw Michigan." They also sparkle on Ernest Tubbs' "Blue Eyed Elaine" and Tom T. Hall's "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine."

The only place they falter is with Bing Crosby's "Where the Blue of the Night." That said, here's hoping for a sequel.