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.
Performance CreditsRicky Skaggs Primary Artist,Mandolin,Vocals
Del McCoury Tenor (Vocal),Guest Appearance
Earl Scruggs Banjo,Guest Appearance
Jim Mills Banjo,Bass (Vocal)
Darrin Vincent Baritone (Vocal)
Cody Kilby Guitar,Soloist
Mark Fain Bass
Paul Brewster Tenor (Vocal)
Andy Leftwich Fiddle
Technical CreditsLester Flatt Composer
Ricky Skaggs Producer,Liner Notes
Brent King Engineer
Howard Watts Composer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.