The Best of Larry Sparks: Bound to Ride

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Larry Sparks is one of the greatest bluegrass vocalists of all time, and this splendid 14-song overview does his artistry proud. Among its multitudinous virtues are no less than four songs by one of Sparks' favored songwriting teams, Pete Goble and Leroy Drumm. The duo's plaintive reminiscence of another time, another place, "Tennessee 1949," leads off the album in what is a showcase for Sparks' deeply emotional, beautifully modulated exploration of the narrator's yearning for the small-town pleasures of his youth. Hard to imagine how a record could get better from that point, but it does, as the retrospective dips into cuts from seven different albums to show the ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Larry Sparks is one of the greatest bluegrass vocalists of all time, and this splendid 14-song overview does his artistry proud. Among its multitudinous virtues are no less than four songs by one of Sparks' favored songwriting teams, Pete Goble and Leroy Drumm. The duo's plaintive reminiscence of another time, another place, "Tennessee 1949," leads off the album in what is a showcase for Sparks' deeply emotional, beautifully modulated exploration of the narrator's yearning for the small-town pleasures of his youth. Hard to imagine how a record could get better from that point, but it does, as the retrospective dips into cuts from seven different albums to show the breadth and depth of Sparks' legacy. Heartbreakers of all kinds abound -- notably the tender letter home to mama that is "John Deere Tractor," in which a son confesses to a bitter romance he likens to "trying to plow a furrow / where the soil is made of steel" and longs for the sanctity of home again -- but these are balanced out by some boisterous, celebratory interludes. "I'd Like to Be a Train" is an occasion for some spectacular, frantic vocal and instrumental work, with Barry Coltrane's hard-charging banjo punctuations getting a run for their money from equally breathtaking mandolin playing courtesy of Randy Jones; and "Just Lovin' You," a Larry and Bernice Sparks original, is a toe-tapping, close-harmonized beauty of a love song, remarkable both for its high spirits and for a whipsaw guitar solo from Sparks that complements Mike Lilly's buoyant banjo support. This is as smart a "best of" package that's come down the pike in some time. As with any artist of Larry Sparks' stature, though, the good news is that there's a lot more where this comes from.
All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
As a bluegrass performer, Larry Sparks has always been easy to like. Perhaps it has something to do with his distinct vocal style, or perhaps his speedy fingerpicking, or perhaps his choice of material. It could even have something to do with his ability to bridge the old and the new without seemingly to sacrifice either. Best of Larry Sparks: Bound to Ride offers a good overview of his work, drawing form a wide range of material, from 1975's Sparklin' Bluegrass to 2003's The Coldest Part of Winter. It is interesting, with all of this material side by side, to compare Sparks' work from 1975-1976 with everything after 1980. When listening to "You Could Have Called" from 1976, Sparks handles the song well, though his vocal is higher (more nasal) than his later material. In a sense, he is still finding his voice here, a voice that would emerge strongly on 1980's John Deere Tractor. The title cut from that album, written by Lawrence Hammond, remains one of Sparks', and contemporary bluegrass', finest moments. Here, Sparks easily evokes the disappearance of clean country living in both words and music, evocatively underpinning his vocals with Tommy Boyd's dobro. "John Deere Tractor" is joined by many other fine cuts, making Bound to Ride a good intro to Sparks' rich songbook.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/6/2008
  • Label: Rebel Records
  • UPC: 032511752222
  • Catalog Number: 7522
  • Sales rank: 50,376

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Larry Sparks Primary Artist, Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals, Baritone (Vocal)
Ricky Skaggs Fiddle, Mandolin, Baritone (Vocal), Tenor (Vocal)
Gene Elders Fiddle
David Harvey Mandolin
Wendy Miller Mandolin, Tenor (Vocal)
Tim Sargent Dobro
Art Stamper Fiddle
Danny Williams Electric Bass
Mike Lilly Banjo, Bass, Baritone (Vocal)
Tommy Boyd Banjo, Dobro, Tenor (Vocal)
Bob Goff Bass
Barry Crabtree Banjo
Art Wydner Bass
Terry Barnes Mandolin, Tenor (Vocal)
Scott Napier Mandolin
Kirk Brandenberger Fiddle
Josh McMurray Banjo
Jim Heffernan Dobro
Technical Credits
Larry Sparks Arranger, Composer
Lawrence Hammond Composer
Patrick Brayer Composer
Earl Thomas Conley Composer
David Glasser Mastering
Pete Goble Composer
Leroy Drumm Composer
Jon Hartley Fox Liner Notes
Gladys Stacey Composer
Louise Certain Composer
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