Picks and Pans Review: Duets

updated 08/27/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/27/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Emmylou Harris

Don't start checking yourselves for wings and halos quite yet, country music fans.

This may be as close to heaven as many of us ever get—an album completely devoted to Harris's duets with other singers. But there's a hitch: 10 of the 12 tracks on this album are old, dating back as far as 1973.

There are splendid new Harris duets with the Desert Rose Band ("The Price I Pay") and Willie Nelson ("Gulf Coast Highway"), but her other collaborations are reissues. The two most routine tracks are with Harris's old mentor, Gram Parsons, and (this one is routine going on limp) "Star of Bethlehem" with Neil Young, recorded in 1977.

By way of spectacular compensation, however, there is Harris's recording of "Evangeline" with the Band, Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You," sung with Don Williams, Tom Petty's "Thing About You," with Southern Pacific, Van Hoose's "Green Pastures," with Ricky Skaggs and the sublime "All Fall Down," a Ron Peterson-Harlan Howard tune, with George Jones. (John Denver, Earl Thomas Conley and Roy Orbison are the other partners.)

So put those fantasies of Emmylou ducting with Springsteen, John Hiatt, John Mellencamp, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor, Randy Travis, Stevie Wonder and Joe Cocker on hold for now. (There's also Maria McKee, Melissa Etheridge and so on, but that's a list for another time.) This is that rare occasion when a sequel seems like a good idea, and maybe there'll be hope for us on Duets II. (Reprise)

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