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Two things can happen to longtime groups: they can become dated, oldies acts as new styles supplant theirs or they can watch the world catch up with their innovations. Such is the latter case for Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen, a group who can trace their history to the 1950s. Unlike most of the bluegrass groups of the '50s and '60s, the Country Gentlemen added contemporary songs to their repertoire, placing the group in the vanguard of the progressive bluegrass movement. While 45 Years of Memories may sound like a best-of package, guitarist Waller, banjoist Greg Corbett, mandolinist Darin Aldridge, and bassist Ronnie Davis lay down new versions of a number of classic Country Gentlemen songs. Pieces like "House of the Rising Sun," "The City of New Orleans," and "Dark As a Dungeon" will be familiar to fans and non-fans alike. What is notable, though, is the ability of the band to take a tired piece like "House of the Rising Sun" and offer a fresh, upbeat take on it. Fun odes to no-count heroes like "Catfish John" and proto-feminist "Amelia Earhart" spice up this collection, while odes to the wandering, "Circuit Rider" and "Traveling Kind," reflect the lifestyle of a working bluegrass band. Waller remains in good voice, and the additions of guitarist Greg Luck and dobroist Rob Ickes fill out the band's sound. 45 Years of Memories is a satisfying release and will be warmly received by old and new fans alike.
Performance CreditsCharlie Waller Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Ronnie Davis Bass
Rob Ickes Guitar (Resonator)
Greg Luck Fiddle,Guitar
Greg Corbett Banjo,Vocals
Darin Aldridge Mandolin,Vocals
Technical CreditsRicky Skaggs Liner Notes
Greg Luck Engineer
Tom Riggs Liner Notes,Executive Producer
Greg Corbett Producer
Bob Murray Art Direction
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Since their first appearance nearly fifty years ago, The Country Gentlemen led by Charlie Waller have always been immediately recognizable for their signature sound characterized by expert bluegrass musicianship, Waller's lead vocals, and a repertoire heavily influenced by folk and contemporary sounds. This album from Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen, their first release for the Pinecastle label, is a nostalgic collection of their most requested hits. Recorded using the latest sound technology available, these hits are infused with a new spark of high-voltage energy and come back to life. I just wish that Charlie would've included a bonus track of "Bringing Mary Home," the song that climbed to #43 on the 1965 Billboard country music chart. However, the current lineup of Waller on guitar, Greg Corbett (banjo), Darin Aldridge (mandolin), and Ronnie Davis (bass) serve up a wonderful mix of our favorite memories. Joining the band for this project are Rob Ickes on resonator guitar and Greg Luck on fiddle and second guitar. The songs are familiar and come from well-known songwriters Pete Goble/Leroy Drumm. Woody Guthrie, Steve Goodman, Don McHan, Gordon Lightfoot, Merle Travis, Bob McDill, Pete Kuykendall, John Loudermilk, and Steve Young. I never tire of hearing grassified versions of House of the Rising Sun, City of New Orleans, and Don Quixote. I especially enjoyed their newer arrangements of "The Little Grave," and "Remembrance of You." Like the wind of a southbound train, this album indicates that Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen are travellin' men, seasoned performers with a number of hits that deserve to be heard over and over. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)