Various The Gift: A Tribute To Ian Tyson

Seeing as how Ian Tyson more or less laid the groundwork in the early ’60s for every Canadian songwriter that came after him, a tribute such as this is surely overdue. However, as someone who never put much stock in his own myth, The Gift is also probably necessary at this point to keep these great songs alive. The album opens, appropriately, with the greatest of them all, "Four Strong Winds,” done reverentially by Blue Rodeo. The sphere of Tyson’s influence is also plainly shown by the participation of such legends as Gordon Lightfoot ("Red Velvet”), Ramblin’ Jack Elliott ("Will James”) and former Byrd/Burrito Brother Chris Hillman ("What Does She See”). But more important is the appearance of some of the true inheritors of Tyson’s legacy, namely fellow Albertan Corb Lund, who puts his own spin on "MC Horses,” and Tom Russell, whose hard-bitten cowboy persona is perfectly suited to cover "Old Cheyenne.” Although none of these artists dare to do anything radically different with the songs, the adherence to their purity remains the best tribute to Tyson’s original intentions. The Gift is a fine reminder of the huge impact Ian Tyson had, not only in Canada but all over the world. (Stony Plain/Warner)