The new album “Alabama & Friends” pays tribute to a pioneering band that proved decades ago how popular merging country and Southern rock could be. A gang of contemporary country stars, all of whom incorporate rock into their music, celebrate another country music trait: concise, catchy songs that survive the ages.
Several 21st-century stars put their stamp on Alabama favorites. Jason Aldean adds arena-guitar crunch to “Tennessee River,” Luke Bryan finds joyous fun in “Love in the First Degree” and Florida Georgia Line brings extra bounce to “I’m in a Hurry (and Don’t Know Why).”
Even better is the intimacy Kenny Chesney instills into “Lady Down on Love” and the Bob Seger-like soul Toby Keith pumps into “She and I.” Jamey Johnson’s performance of “My Home’s in Alabama” fits him like an old denim jacket — a tribute that improves on the original.