A Tribute To Dan Fogelberg

Various Artists

Though many may pigeonhole him for a few soft-rock hits over a 35-year career, Dan Fogelberg is a timeless and universal talent with an emotionality and virtuosity all his own. While a tribute album to his body of work marks the sad occasion of 10 years passed since his untimely death from cancer, A Tribute To Dan Fogelberg from friends, contemporaries and influences is like a burst of fresh mountain air — filling the lungs and consciousness with something unique and powerful at the same time. More importantly, it brings pleasing punch, power and energy to Fogelberg’s varied song catalog, hits and deep tracks included.

While every artist/band here is imbued by Fogelberg’s spirit, one act, Train, misses the mark completely by removing all sentiment from “Same Auld Lang Syne.” Others choose their songs wisely and proceed to soar. Garth Brooks summons his upper vocal strength to tackle “Phoenix,” capturing Fogelberg’s shriek to near-perfection with the lyric, “Like a phoenix, I have risen from the flames!” The Eagles, led by former Fogelberg producer Joe Walsh, rip into “Part of the Plan” with tender intensity.

Jimmy Buffett meanwhile puts his humor aside to offer a straight-from-the-heart rendition of “There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler,” as Boz Scaggs adds drawl and groove to “Hard to Say,” and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band featuring Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield/Poco) harmonize beautifully on the equine classic “Run for the Roses.” Yet the undisputed highlight of this album comes from another legend who left us way too soon — Donna Summer. Backed by lush orchestration, Summer tells a powerful tale with Fogelberg’s “Nether Lands” as her stunning vibrato doesn’t overpower the track but rather conveys the splendor of Fogelberg’s distinctive visual writing. This track is ethereal and it’s gorgeous.

Having hit nearly all the right notes with a single disc, I immediately wish this was a double album. Gather another batch of talents who view Fogelberg as the icon he is to tackle further classics — “To the Morning,” “The Power of Gold,” “In the Passage,” and “The Wild Places” among them — and A Tribute To Dan Fogelberg could have been even better as far as tributes go.

~ Ira Kantor

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