Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 & 1947

Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 & 1947

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by Ricky Skaggs
     
 

In an interesting juxtaposition to the super-progressive bluegrass of Chris Thile's Punch Brothers, Ricky Skaggs offers a vibrant look back at the music's deepest roots with this tribute to Bill Monroe and his pioneering group featuring Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise, and Howard Watts. The dozen tunes are culled from a trove of previously unheard live recordings of Monroe…  See more details below

Overview

In an interesting juxtaposition to the super-progressive bluegrass of Chris Thile's Punch Brothers, Ricky Skaggs offers a vibrant look back at the music's deepest roots with this tribute to Bill Monroe and his pioneering group featuring Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise, and Howard Watts. The dozen tunes are culled from a trove of previously unheard live recordings of Monroe and his classic ensemble dating from the pivotal 1946-1947 timeframe when Monroe and company crafted the definitive model of bluegrass. Vowing "to honor the original tempos, intros, and even some of the solos," Skaggs and his formidable Kentucky Thunder are doubly formidable here, playing with gripping conviction and scary virtuosity, with the album sequenced to have only the slightest of pauses between tracks so that the whole enterprise feels like a ride on a runaway train. Respites are provided only rarely, notably with a heartfelt lament to a mother's passing, "Mother's Only Sleeping," which features a piercing tenor vocal from Paul Brewster, but also a lead vocal from Skaggs in which he channels Mr. Bill in an uncanny replication of the latter's vocal timbre and swooping phrasing; and the timeless "Little Cabin On The Hill," loping along at a graceful, midtempo gait, with fiddler Andy Leftwich adding tart, crying laments to bolster a tender Skaggs vocal, beautifully harmonized by Brewster. The album breaks fast at the outset with a strutting, speed-picked beauty, "Goin' Back to Old Kentucky," featuring eager flurries of rolling notes courtesy none other than special guest Earl Scruggs. And who better than Del McCoury to add a signature high lonesome tenor to the dire shadows foretold in the closing gospel entreaty, "The Old Crossroad"? All in all, bluegrass, and Mr. Bill, could hardly have asked for better than this.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
Bill Monroe had already recorded some sixty songs with his brother Charlie Monroe for Bluebird/RCA Records in the late 1930s (as the Monroe Brothers), but while he was fronting his own group in the early '40s, he felt he wasn't quite getting the sound he was searching for in his head. Then in 1945 he added a singer and guitarist to his band named Lester Flatt, and later in that same year he added an extraordinary three-finger-styled banjo player named Earl Scruggs to the group, and suddenly that sound Monroe had been chasing was right there in front of him. Bluegrass. Rounded out by Chubby Wise and Howard Watts, this version of the Bluegrass Boys didn't get to record until almost a year later, but the rest, as they so often say, is history. This lovingly assembled album is Ricky Skaggs' attempt to pay homage to that amazing band and he leads his Kentucky Thunder ensemble through some of the songs that Monroe and company recorded in that first burst of sessions for Columbia Records. It's fitting that the only surviving member of that version of the Bluegrass Boys, the still astounding Earl Scruggs, is on hand here to help with the opening track, a fine version of "Goin' Back to Old Kentucky." Nothing replaces the original sides from 1946 and 1947, naturally, but these renditions, particularly on tracks like the lovely "When You're Lonely," the wise and cautionary "The Old Crossroad," and the blistering instrumental explosion of "Bluegrass Breakdown," gently and warmly remind just how innovative and fresh the Bluegrass Boys really were some sixty-plus years ago. They created the very template for bluegrass, and while modern players have stretched the boundaries a bit, bluegrass in the 21st century is still very much that long ago sound Monroe heard in his head.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/25/2008
Label:
Skaggs Family
UPC:
0669890100827
catalogNumber:
901008
Rank:
81737

Tracks

  1. Goin' Back to Old Kentucky  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  2. When You're Lonely  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  3. Toy Heart  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  4. It's Mighty Dark to Travel  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  5. Mother's Only Sleeping  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  6. Bluegrass Breakdown  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  7. Little Cabin Home on the Hill  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  8. Mansions for Me  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  9. Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  10. Why Did You Wander  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  11. Remember the Cross  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  12. The Old Crossroad  -  Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder

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Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 & 1947 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think anyone who enjoys bluegrass as much as i do should buy this.these are classics!just listen to the samples and see for your self.