March 18, 2002 12:00 PM

Various Artists (Audium)

There had never been enough recognition for Webb Pierce, a Louisianan who, from the 1940s through his death in 1991, reached the country charts with 55 Top 10 singles that mixed blues with Western swing. So this 21-song tribute album, featuring superb renditions of Pierce’s best-known tunes, is a worthy homage. The salutes run the generational gamut from Allison Moorer to Dwight Yoakam to Willie Nelson, Pierce’s occasional singing partner who chimes in with a mournful take on “That’s Me Without You.” His 1955 hit “In the Jailhouse Now” is energetically revived by Dale Watson, backed by the Jordanaires.

As produced by Gail Davies, who also nails her performance of “Love Love Love,” this disc wistfully captures country music as it sounded, in the ’40s and ’50s—rich in steel guitar, honky-tonk piano and giddy fiddles. Now if only the Country Music Hall of Fame would finally give Pierce his due.

Bottom Line: Shining tribute to an overlooked star

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