The tribute album has lost much of its luster over the past ten years. Amidst a flood of output, some of it ill-advised – a harp tribute to Metallica, an orchestral tribute to Limp Bizkit, the fact that there are multiple tributes to Creed – the genre has some questioning its vitality.
This is in part because of the gimmicky nature of some tribute albums. When every ’90s rock band has a string quartet covering its songs, or famous heavy metal groups get the bluegrass treatment, it can be hard to take the endeavor seriously. Did you know there’s a tribute album that features Beatles hits performed with keyboard animal noises in place of vocals? Like the end of a Shakespearean tragedy, it just leaves one asking, “Why?”
Once upon a time, tribute albums were a way to pay homage to musical legends. They were treated reverentially, with legitimate artists doing justice to influential musicians whose work they loved. These days, few tribute albums follow that path— and for those that do, it can be hard to get noticed. Only the truly great ones stand out.
One such standout is Looking Into You – A Tribute Album to Jackson Browne. Released on April 1, 2014 on Music Road Records, this record marks the return of the sincere tribute album.
If anyone deserves some first class recognition, it’s singer/songwriter Jackson Browne. With an illustrious musical career spanning over 40 years, Browne has sold more than 18 million albums. He’s written a slew of hits including “The Pretender,” “Take it Easy,” “Running on Empty,” “Doctor My Eyes,” “Somebody’s Baby,” and “These Days.”
Browne landed multiple records on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, and was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Looking Into You – A Tribute Album to Jackson Browne has attracted a lot of attention for its all-star lineup. The eclectic collection of artists who contributed to the double-album is a testament to Browne’s immense talent, accessibility, and lasting impact.
Unlike most recent tribute albums, which feature performances by no-namers and unknowns, the hit-makers lined up to honor Jackson Browne. Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, the Indigo Girls, Keb’ Mo’, Marc Cohn, and Joan Osborne are among the platinum-selling and Grammy-winning artists who contributed to Looking Into You. Also contributing a track is Bruce Springsteen, whose friendship with Browne dates to the early 1970s.
These artists turned out to honor Jackson Browne because his timeless music transcends genres and eras. He’s a contemporary and friend to many of them, and their affection for his work is evident in the music. That’s why the album has been so-well received by critics and fans, gathering stellar reviews and selling 8,000 copies in the first week alone.
Looking Into You – A Tribute Album to Jackson Browne is a return to form for the tribute album.
It’s a clear frontrunner for the Best Tribute Album Grammy Award and a strong indication that the tribute album isn’t dead, after all. Thanks to Looking Into You, it may be more vital than ever.