Singer/songwriter John Hiatt anchors the Walt Disney Records soundtrack to the forthcoming feature film "The Country Bears" -- and does so with a little help from his friends. Hiatt contributes seven

Singer/songwriter John Hiatt anchors the Walt Disney Records soundtrack to the forthcoming feature film "The Country Bears" -- and does so with a little help from his friends. Hiatt contributes seven of the 14 tracks that appear on the disc, due July 23, and collaborates on one with Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, and former Men At Work singer Colin Hay.

The trio of guests and Hiatt trade vocals on the twangy ballad-turned-rocker "Straight to the Heart of Love," while Raitt and Henley pair up for the song "Can Love Stand the Test," both written by Hiatt. On his own, Hiatt performs the original songs "Let It Ride" (with backing vocals by Hay), "Where Nobody Knows My Name," and "Just the Goin'." He penned additional songs performed here by Krystal Marie Harris, Jennifer Paige, and actress E.G. Daily.

"Lyrically, I knew that I wanted [the music] to be simple, but have a little depth to it, to be simple poetry," director Peter Hastings said in a statement. "Once I realized that I needed this amalgam sound of American music, I started listening to John Hiatt. He has played all these different kinds of music. Lyrically he's great. How can you say a complex thing simply? He's just really great at doing that."

A host of great players lent their talents to the soundtrack's creation, including guitarist Sonny Landreth on the track "Let It Ride." "Where Nobody Knows My Name" and "Straight To the Heart of Love" feature bassist Davey Faragher and drummer Pete Thomas of Elvis Costello's current backing band, the Imposters, as well as Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench.

QueenAlso showing up on the set is modern rock drummer Josh Freese (Vandals, A Perfect Circle), noted session drummer Ethan Johns (Hiatt, Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris), and his father, producer Glyn Johns (Hiatt, Eagles, Eric Clapton, the Who). Dallas Austin (Monica, Madonna, Boyz II Men) produced Krystal Marie Harris' version of Hiatt's "The Kid in You."

"The Country Bears" disc is rounded out by "I'm Only In It for the Honey," a new track by the Brian Setzer '68 Comeback Special, and the down-home instrumental jam "Bear Mountain Hop" by Bela Fleck with Flecktones bassist Victor Wooten. Previously released songs by Elton John ("Friends") and the Byrds ("So You Want To Be a Rock'n'Roll Star"), plus two pieces of score from the film are also featured.

Loosely based on the Walt Disney World animatronic attraction "The Country Bear Jamboree," the film follows Beary Barrington's (voiced by Haley Joel Osment) attempts to reunite the Country Bears for a benefit concert to save the venue where the band got its start.

Along with their music, Henley, Raitt, John, Krystal, and Setzer all make cameo appearances as themselves in the film, while Hiatt provides the singing voice of one of the main characters, Ted Bedderhead. Paige also appears as a diner waitress, while Setzer's appearance finds him onstage in a fiddle duel with one of the Country Bears.

"The Country Bears" also features rapper/actress Queen Latifah as a bartender. Latifah is also slated to be seen this fall's "Brown Sugar," starring Taye Diggs and featuring fellow rapper Method Man. She'll also appear in the latest big screen remake of "Chicago," which is based on the Broadway musical version and is due out at Christmas.

Set to open July 26 in U.S. theaters, "The Country Bears" also features Christopher Walken, Alex Rocco, and Daryl "Chill" Mitchell, as well as the voices of Brad Garrett ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), Diedrich Bader ("The Drew Carey Show"), and Stephen Root ("News Radio").

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