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Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo

Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo

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Alejandro Escovedo may not be a household name, but the reputation of this punk agitator-turned-roots-rock pioneer in the musical community is among the best -- which accounts for the outpouring of affection on this disc, a benefit designed to help Escovedo in his battle against liver disease. The participants cover pretty much the


Alejandro Escovedo may not be a household name, but the reputation of this punk agitator-turned-roots-rock pioneer in the musical community is among the best -- which accounts for the outpouring of affection on this disc, a benefit designed to help Escovedo in his battle against liver disease. The participants cover pretty much the entire waterfront of what's come to be called adult-alternative music, with Lucinda Williams bringing out the homespun dejection in the aging-party-girl paean "Pyramid of Tears" and John Cale homing in on the existential aspects of the crumbling-marriage tale "She Doesn't Live Here Anymore." While there's plenty of melancholy in these grooves, the set also allows Escovedo's brighter side to shine through, most notably on fellow Austinites Los Lonely Boys' fuel-injected version of "Castanets" and "Rhapsody," which gains a country-morning freshness from the vocal harmonies of Tres Chicas. Not surprisingly, Escovedo's extended family -- including niece Sheila E., who joins her dad, Pete, on a burnished "Ballad of the Sun and Moon" -- are well represented, but the degree of respect he commands outside his inner circle (so strong that the long-splintered Son Volt reunited to record "Sometimes" for the disc) is the set's second-most heartwarming aspect. The first? The guest of honor's own performance on "Break This Time," recorded just before he fell ill in 2003 -- a presentation that not only puts a face on Por Vida but also underscores the collection's upbeat title by serving notice that Alejandro Escovedo intends to keep on kicking for some time to come.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Alejandro Escovedo has been making memorable music of one kind or another since the mid-'70s, but it wasn't until he released his first solo album in 1992, Gravity, that he began to reveal the full extent of his gifts as a songwriter. A lyricist with a remarkable ability to find subtle beauties and difficult truths in the stuff of everyday lives, Escovedo also has a superb ear for a melody, whether he is writing for a small acoustic group or a roaring full-on rock band, and Gravity was nothing short of a revelation, with his subsequent albums only confirming Escovedo's talent. In April of 2003, it was announced that Escovedo had been diagnosed with potentially deadly Hepatitis C; adding to this dire news was the fact that, like many artists and musicians, Escovedo had no health insurance to help pay his extensive medical bills. It's a telling indication of the respect with which Escovedo is held as an artist and as a person that friends and admirers around the country began organizing benefit shows to help the songwriter in his time of crisis, a grassroots effort that eventually grew into the album Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo, a sprawling two-disc set whose proceeds benefit the Alejandro Escovedo Medical and Living Expense Fund. Por Vida features no fewer than 31 newly recorded covers from Escovedo's songbook, as well as a new tune Alejandro recorded for the occasion, and the list of participants includes at least three of Escovedo's musical heroes (John Cale, Ian Hunter, and Ian McLagan), several frequent collaborators (Jon Dee Graham, Charlie Sexton, Chris Stamey), and a list of admirers and well-wishers whose musical spheres range from pop (Jennifer Warnes) to blues (Charlie Musselwhite) to jazz (Pete Escovedo and Sheila E.) to Tejano (Rubén Ramos) to alt-country (Son Volt, who reunited for their contribution here), with any number of other sounds represented along the way. Given the almost dizzying variety of artists and styles encompassed on Por Vida, what's most remarkable about the album is how consistent it is; the quality of these songs is a given, but the performances are strong and emphatic from front to back, as if the musicians wanted to be sure that they gave the songs the interpretations they deserved. And despite the leaps from genre to genre, the voice of Alejandro Escovedo rings out clear and present on every track, and it's good to be able to report that his own track, "Break This Time," is a hearty rocker that pays no mind to his difficult circumstances. It would have been easy for Por Vida to come off as just another benefit set or tribute disc, with plenty of well-meaning but tossed-off performances from musicians who were easy to round up at the moment, but thankfully that's not how it turned out -- instead, it's a loving homage from a group of gifted artists to one of their own, and the result speaks not of illness or death, but of music created "por vida."..for life.
New York Times - Jon Pareles
Nearly everyone involved does justice to his rock-ribbed songs, with their mixture of dark revelation and down-home twang.
Entertainment Weekly - Holly George-Warren
No matter who's singing, Escovedo's remarkable songcraft shines through. (A)

Product Details

Release Date:
Or. Music


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Charlie Musselwhite   Harmonica
Rosie Flores   Vocals
John Cale   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals,Sampling
Peter Case   Electric Piano
Steve Earle   Electric Guitar,Vocals
Ian Hunter   Piano,Vocals
Charlie Sexton   Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Drums,Vocals,Steel Drums
Lucinda Williams   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Pete Escovedo   Bongos,Timbales,Vocals
Matt Rollings   Piano,Hammond Organ
Vic Chesnutt   Vocals
Scott McCaughey   Guitar,Vocals
Bob Neuwirth   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Chris Stamey   Guitar,Vocals
Nicholas Tremulis   Guitar,Piano
Dave Bartholomew   Acoustic Guitar,Castanets,Drums,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Shaker,Coral Sitar,Guitar (Baritone)
Ian McLagan   Hammond Organ,Vocals,Wurlitzer
PJ Harvey   Voices
Rubén Ramos   Vocals
Mickey Raphael   Echo Harp
Bill McKinley   Bass
Ed Ackerson   Electric Guitar
Bukka Allen   Accordion
Alan Anton   Bass
Peter Buck   Bass,Guitar
Joey Burns   Acoustic Guitar,Cello,Vocals,Melodica
Jaro Czerwinec   Accordion
Richard Dodd   Cello
Sheila E.   Conga,Drums,Vocals
Mitch Easter   Rhythm Guitar
Alejandro Escovedo   Rhythm Guitar
Jay Farrar   Electric Guitar
John Gardner   Percussion
Jon Dee Graham   Guitar,Vocals
Michael Hardwick   Guitar,Piano
Michael Heidorn   Percussion,Drums
Steve Holley   Percussion
Duane Jarvis   Guitar
Michael Jerome   Percussion
Tony Kinman   Bass
Jon Langford   Track Performer
Gary Louris   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Wurlitzer
Jim Mastro   Background Vocals
Matt McKenzie   Bass
Eddie Muñoz   Guitar
Tim O'Reagan   Percussion,Drums,Background Vocals
Marc Perlman   Bass,Percussion
Taras Prodaniuk   Bass
George Reiff   Bass
Bill Rieflin   Drums
Margo Timmins   Vocals
Michael Timmins   Guitar,Background Vocals
Peter Timmins   Drums
Sally Timms   Track Performer
Kenny Vaughan   Electric Guitar
Toshi Yanagi   Guitar
Andy York   Bass,Guitar,Background Vocals,Guitar (Resonator)
Brian Young   Percussion,Drums
Derek Brand   Bass
J. Steven Soles   Electric Guitar
Larry Beers   Drums
Jim Christie   Drums
Tom Heyman   Guitar
Hector Muñoz   Drums
Rob Watson   Background Vocals
John Convertino   Drums
Javier Escovedo   Guitar,Vocals
Howe Gelb   Guitar,Piano,Vocals
Pat McGrath   Acoustic Guitar
Lynn Blakey   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
John Chumbris   Electric Guitar
Jeff Babko   Keyboards
Dave Boquist   Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
John Ramberg   Guitar,Background Vocals
Craig Schumacher   Harmonica
Rick Barnes   Guitar,Vocals
Jim Boquist   Bass,Background Vocals
Don Harvey   Drums
John Pirruccello   Guitar,Vocals
Doug Pettibone   Guitar
Gregg Rice   Hammond Organ,fender rhodes
Nick Luca   Bass
Jim Bryson   Guitar
Caitlin Cary   Violin,Accordion,Vocals
Henry Garza   Guitar,Vocals
Joe Camacho   Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar
Andrew Duplantis   Bass,Guitar,Piano,Vocals
Eric Gorfain   Violin
Daphne Chen   Violin
Kelsey Michael   Background Vocals
Greg Readling   Piano,Hammond Organ,Wurlitzer
James Mitchell   Background Vocals
Stone   Organ,Percussion,Vocals
Skillet Gilmore   Drums
M. Ward   Guitar,Vocals
Thad Cockrell   Vocal Harmony
Cody Braun   Mandolin
Willy Braun   Vocals
Tift Merritt   Vocal Harmony
Brian Standefer   Cello,Bells,Celli
David Abeyta   Electric Guitar
John Teer   Violin
Jay Nazz   Drums
JoJo Garza   Bass,Vocals
Leah Katz   Viola
Joshua Case   Mando-Guitar
Robbie Gjersoe   Bass,Dobro,Guitar,Percussion,Guitar (Nylon String)
Jeremy Gara   Drums
Brian Lebarton   Piano,Hammond Organ
Tonya Lamm   Vocals
Dave Meshell   Bass
Bryan Head   Drums
Ron Bartholomew   Bass Guitar
Shaun Cornell   Organ,Piano
Milan Escovedo   Background Vocals
Jesse Heubner   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Kraig Jarret Johnson   Electric Guitar
Logan Matheny   Drums
Skip Matheny   Bass,Vocals
Timshel Matheny   Keyboards
Jimmy McFeeley   Bass
Chris Muldaur   Guitar
"Scrappy" Joe Newcomb   Guitar,Slide Guitar
Victor Penatosa   Guitar,Vocals
David Pulkingham   Guitar (Nylon String)
Gerry Wasson   Bass Guitar
Sofia Yenanian   Zills
Ringo Garza   Drums,Vocals
Jason White   Percussion,Drums

Technical Credits

Ray Kennedy   Engineer
John Cale   Producer
Peter Case   Producer
Charlie Sexton   Producer
Lucinda Williams   Producer
Pete Escovedo   Producer
Scott McCaughey   Producer
Bob Neuwirth   Producer
Rick Parker   Producer,Engineer
Chris Stamey   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Dave Bartholomew   Producer,Engineer
Mike Martin   Engineer
Ian McLagan   Producer,Engineer
PJ Harvey   Contributor
Bill McKinley   Engineer
Ed Ackerson   Producer,Engineer
Stephen Barber   Composer
Stephen Bruton   Composer
Larry Crane   Engineer
Marty Davich   Producer
Michael Dumas   Engineer
Sheila E.   Producer
Alejandro Escovedo   Composer,Producer
J.D. Foster   Composer
Rob Fraboni   Producer
Heinz Geissler   Executive Producer
Michael Hardwick   Producer
Chet Himes   Engineer
Lenny Kaye   Producer
Jon Langford   Producer,Images,Cover Painting
Gary Louris   Producer
Lynn Mabry   Vocal Arrangements
Taras Prodaniuk   Producer
Michael Timmins   Producer,Engineer
Sally Timms   Producer
Paula Wolak   Producer,Engineer
Dragons   Producer
J. Steven Soles   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Jim Christie   Producer
Dave Marsh   Liner Notes,Essay
Lee Miller   Executive Producer
Jim Waters   Engineer
Javier Escovedo   Arranger,Composer
Howe Gelb   Contributor
Mark Cross   Producer,Engineer
David Kampa   Art Direction
Doug Pettibone   Producer
Johnny Sangster   Producer,Engineer
Nick Luca   Engineer
Jim Bryson   Sound Effects
Caitlin Cary   Producer
Twangtrust   Producer
Daphne Chen   Arranger
David Guerrero   Engineer
M. Ward   Arranger,Producer
John Harvey   Engineer
Brian Standefer   Engineer
Mark Cimerro   Engineer
Mike Coykendall   Engineer
Joshua Case   Producer
Mario Podio   Engineer
Robbie Gjersoe   Engineer
Jeremy Gara   Contributor
Shaun Cornell   Engineer
Kyle Crusham   Engineer
Yonatan Elkayam   Engineer
Jason Tuten   Engineer
Kim Christoff   Composer

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Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hey, Guys, I just got this GREAT! New album called Por Vida. It is a Tribute to the songs of Americana legend Alejandro Escovedo, who is struggling with Hepatitis C. In honor of him, and to help him with his medical expenses, there has been this Great! new compellation put together by some of Americana's greatest artists. There are some really fabulous tracks! Some of my favorites are Lucinda Williams' "Pyramid of Tears", Calexico's "Wave", Los Lonely Boys' "Castanets", and Alejandro Escovedo himself singing "Break This Time". The album also has some other great artists on it, is for a really good cause, and is a must have!! Trust me!