The Essential Ricky Skaggs

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
After starting his career as a bluegrass phenom, Ricky Skaggs signed with Epic in 1981 and promptly joined George Strait in leading the New Traditionalists who were infusing country music with an updated approach beholden to fundamental styles. Hearing Skaggs in his mainstream prime on The Essential Ricky Skaggs, which covers the years 1981 to 1991, is to hear an artist who remained true to the music on which he had cut his teeth, while seamlessly integrating electric guitars and drums into a mix otherwise dominated by acoustic string instruments and steel guitar. The only fusion going on here is between country, honky-tonk, and bluegrass -- no mealy-mouthed country-pop,...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
After starting his career as a bluegrass phenom, Ricky Skaggs signed with Epic in 1981 and promptly joined George Strait in leading the New Traditionalists who were infusing country music with an updated approach beholden to fundamental styles. Hearing Skaggs in his mainstream prime on The Essential Ricky Skaggs, which covers the years 1981 to 1991, is to hear an artist who remained true to the music on which he had cut his teeth, while seamlessly integrating electric guitars and drums into a mix otherwise dominated by acoustic string instruments and steel guitar. The only fusion going on here is between country, honky-tonk, and bluegrass -- no mealy-mouthed country-pop, no orchestra-laden power ballads co-opted from arena rock. There are, however, songs by the likes of Flatt & Scruggs, Mel Tillis, Guy Clark, Don Everly, and Stonewall Jackson, among others. "Crying My Heart Out Over You" demonstrates Skaggs's affinity for pure heartbreak in a western swing mode. On Everly's "I Wonder If I Care as Much," sibling harmonies are supplanted by keening, high lonesome bluegrass harmonies and honky-tonk blues. The homespun philosophy of Larry Cordle's "You Can't Do Wrong and Get By" is set to a shuffling, steel- and fiddle-rich honky-tonk arrangement, spiked by some piano fills, that brings out the most emotive side of that unreconstructed honky-tonker George Jones, who joins Skaggs for a deeply felt duet. But for the drums and a lively piano solo, a bouncy treatment of Flatt & Scruggs' "Don't Get Above Your Raisin'" is a bluegrass hoedown. There's too much great work from these years to be contained on a single disc, but as a taste, The Essential is quite savory indeed.
All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
Ricky Skaggs has done a little bit of everything during his long career, from traditional bluegrass to old-school country to newgrass, pop-country, and gospel, and yet somehow it has always seemed like a single thread, emerging as Skaggs' own sturdy brand of country roots music. He hasn't so much changed with the times as the times have changed on him, and he's taken that opportunity to pretty much do whatever he wants to do, exploring the different avenues of country music with a focus and vision that don't require him to deliver radio hits one after the other, because he's done that. Between 1981 and 1991, while he was signed to Epic Records, Skaggs placed 31 singles on the country charts, and 25 of those hit the Top 20, all of which made him a huge star. In many ways, he was a transitional figure between modern traditional country and bluegrass and the soon-to-emerge contemporary country brand. This two-disc, 32-track set collects the best of Skaggs' sides during those commercial glory years at Epic, and includes the hits "Crying My Heart Out Over You," "I Don't Care," "Heartbroke," "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could," and "Highway 40 Blues," among many others, all affording proof that country doesn't need fancy videos, alternative guitar riffs, and studio gimmicks to be relevant in any century.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/1/2003
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 696998906822
  • Catalog Number: 89068

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Ricky Skaggs Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Fiddle, Mandolin, Electric Guitar
Jerry Douglas Dobro
Ray Flacke Electric Guitar
Albert Lee Electric Guitar
Steve Gibson Mandolin, Electric Guitar
Lloyd Green Steel Guitar
Buck White Piano, Soloist, Fills
Eddie Bayers Drums
Barry Beckett Piano
Bruce Bouton Steel Guitar
Dennis Burnside Piano
Mark Casstevens Acoustic Guitar
Jesse Chambers Bass
Terry Crisp Steel Guitar
Glen D. Hardin Piano
Hank DeVito Rhythm Guitar, Steel Guitar
Emory Gordy Bass
George Grantham Background Vocals
Bobby Hardin Background Vocals
Bobby Hicks Fiddle
David Hungate Bass
Roy M. "Junior" Husky Upright Bass
Jerry Kroon Drums
Kenny Malone Percussion, Drums
Mickey Merritt Piano
Weldon Myrick Steel Guitar
John Ware Drums
Cheryl Warren Background Vocals
Michael Rojas Piano
Rodney Price Drums
Joe Osborn Bass
Mike Kennedy Drums
Technical Credits
Lester Flatt Composer
Earl Scruggs Composer
Ricky Skaggs Producer
Guy Clark Composer
Ray Pennington Composer
Ray Price Composer
Mel Tillis Composer
Don Everly Composer
Chris Youlden Composer
Cindy Walker Composer
Jim Eanes Composer
Carl Butler Composer
Larry Cordle Composer
Melvin Endsley Composer
Shake Russell Composer
Jim Bessman Liner Notes
Steve Buckingham Producer
Paul Jones Composer
Hillary Kanter Composer
Webb Pierce Composer
Billy Sherrill Producer
Even Stevens Composer
Marijohn Wilkin Composer
Arthur Q. Smith Composer
Jim Rushing Composer
Vic Anesini Mastering
S. Jackson Composer
Roy Marcum Composer
Gladys Stacey Composer
Louise Certain Composer
Traditional Composer
Arthur Smith Composer
Tom Uhr Composer
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