Roy Rogers, king of the cinematic cowboys, always kept his moralistic stories of good guys and bad guys simple. Just 26 when he first rode across the silver screen and now 80, Rogers still conducts himself according to an uncomplicated code. The 12 songs that make up Tribute (all but one performed with considerably younger stars) are either cowpoke standards (”When Pay Day Rolls Around”) or pseudo-cowpoke (”That’s How the West Was Swung,” Cole Porter’s ”Don’t Fence Me In”), and for the most part Roy never gets any fancier on them than to add a trademark yodel. That’s fine and good, but underneath the charm of pairing America’s friendliest cowboy with the Kentucky HeadHunters, Randy Travis, K.T. Oslin, Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, and Rogers look-alike Clint Black, among others, there bubbles a wellspring of trouble. The fluid voice that served Rogers as a founding member of the Sons of the Pioneers has understandably lost its elasticity. And while there are a handful of beguiling performances, too many of the offerings are just predictable cowboy homilies, and the renditions just solicitous star turns. If it’s mostly sweet nostalgia you want, then guide your ponies in here. Otherwise, podner, keep moseyin’ down the trail. C+

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