Country Times: Nashville’s collaboration with Doobie Brothers a natural partnership

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The always compelling Lyle Lovett tackles “Our Lady of the Well” and “Rosie,” Lucinda Williams takes on the iconic “The Pretender,” and the album’s big get — Bruce Springsteen — offers his version of “Linda Paloma” with Patti Scialfa. Kevin Welch, J.D. Souther and Texas native Don Henley round out a two-disc set that drops on April 1.

It’s not that hard to hear the musical threads that connect the Doobies and Jackson Browne to today’s generation of country music, but there’s another tribute project in the pipeline that’s a little tougher to explain: the as-yet-untitled Motley Crue album. That’s right. Motley Crue. (I know there’s an umlaut in there somewhere, but I have no idea where that key is on this keyboard, so you’re on your own.)

Don’t laugh. This one could the biggest one of all. It’s got Florida Georgia Line — listen, everything they touch now turns to gold — and superstar-in-waiting Brantley Gilbert, who has the current No. 1, “Bottom’s Up.” Which, now that I think about it, could have been a pretty decent Motley Crue song.

Also on board are LeAnn Rimes, Eli Young Band and Cassadee Pope, among others. No release date yet, but Nashville label Big Machine Records plans to have the album out before Motley Crue finishes its “farewell tour” this year. The band is “retiring,” and the country album is just part of what is being billed as a year of celebration of the biggest hair-metal band of the 1980s.

It’s not as crazy as it might seem: Superstar Carrie Underwood, who hasn’t signed onto this particular tribute album, actually did her own version of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” a few years back.

Now, if you’re a purist and all this genre-mining to find a few nuggets of country gold seems a little hit or miss, you’d probably rather go straight to the mother lode. Musical bloodlines don’t come much purer than last year’s “Bakersfield” — Vince Gill and Paul Franklin’s whiskey-soaked take on 10 honky-tonk gems from two of country’s originals: Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.

A tribute album with no need for a lot of explanation, that one.

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