Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at Asleep At The Wheel's third Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys tribute, 'Still The King,' which features guest spots from George Strait, Brad Paisley, Willie Nelson and more.
Week of 03/13/2015
WHO: Asleep At The Wheel
WHAT: Still The King: Celebrating The Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
The branch of country music that Asleep At The Wheel represents-Western swing and its Texan brethren-has been out of fashion for about as long as Ray Benson and his band has been putting out records. The '80s introduced a smoother, pop-friendly form of the overarching country genre and largely held its grip until the emergence of so-called "bro-country." It's about all a band like Asleep can do to release tribute albums to icons of the Western swing format such as Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.
Indeed, Still The King is the third collection of Mills covers that the band has released (and both are included as two of Asleep's three albums to crack the Billboard 200 in the last 30 years).
The reason why fans might opt for 1993's A Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys versus the newer model is based strictly on name recognition, not quality: That album featured guest spots from Garth Brooks, George Strait, Dolly Parton and other names that even today trump the popularity Brad Paisley, Willie Nelson and the Avett Brothers (although Strait is back for "South of The Border"). The quality remains constant however.
Traditionalists will approve of songs that follow a hard line behind Wills' originals, such as the The Time Jumpers' take on "Faded Love." For a new take (but not too new) on a Wills classic, consider "My Window Faces The South," where Paisley adds an electric guitar solo where there would otherwise be one from the piano.