Paging Alison Krauss

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We used to enjoy the challenge of dealing with unusual rock and roll collaborations.

By the eighties, many album rock stations had become safe, passive, paint-by-number outfits, consulted by dweebs that cautioned against their stations playing atypical collaborations. When Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” became too big for rock radio to ignore – many album rock stations were forced to add it – but referred to the song as an Eddie Van Halen track. The same held true for the Michael Jackson-Paul McCartney collaboration, “Say, Say, Say” where some stations only mentioned McCartney’s name. That alliance became better known for what followed – when Jackson deviously outbid McCartney for a collection of Beatles music publishing rights.

There’s the master of collaboration – David Bowie – who partnered with dozens of acts, including Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople, Queen, Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, Pat Metheny, Nine Inch Nails, and most recently, the Arcade Fire.And so it goes.

By the ’90s Bono was crowned the new king over Bowie with his collaborators- Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, B.B. King, Luciano Pavarotti, Wyclef Jean, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson, the Irish pop group the Corrs and even Britpop songstress Kylie Minogue – and that’s just scratching the surface.

We had Jimmy Page with the pre-Diddy Puff Daddy, Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach, Godfather of grunge Neil Young and Godsons Pearl Jam (that one making perfect sense), and just about anyone and Carlos Santana.

A current favorite is a recently-released album featuring the unlikely pairing of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. A rock god and a bluegrass queen. I didn’t know what to expect – but their collaboration, Rising Sand, ended up being one of my favorite albums of the year. The album is a huge success, too, and Plant and Krauss will be doing a mid-year concert tour.

Country Music Television (CMT) – the country version of what MTV used to be – came up with Crossroads, which unites rock and country artists in a small concert setting. Some of the recent pair-ups included Bon Jovi with Sugarland, Lindsay Buckingham and Little Big Town, Kid Rock and Hank Williams, Jr., Sheryl Crow with Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams and Elvis Costello, and Ann and Nancy Wilson with Wynonna.

What does this have to do with WMMS? Nothing and everything.

We used to play the widest variety of rock and roll – stretching its definition in the process. It made for a good slogan, too. We had the sovereignty to present a substantial quantity of unique alliances. Our format also allowed us to, in the course of an hour, program music from a wide variety of genres. Plant and Krause brings to mind those days. If that album came out back then, we’d be all over it.

So, we put this up while our audio was being restored on the site and we’ve heard that you want us to keep the link up – here’s a video of CMT’s Crossroads featuring Robert Plant and Alison Krauss performing live. It’s not exactly vintage Buzzard – but it’ll do in a pinch. I guarantee it’ll hook you in.

Here’s the Plant-Krauss CMT Crossroads link:

http://www.cmt.com/loaded/player.jhtml?id=1580892&channelID=21&gateway=shows&seriesID=8650&episodeID

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