Surrounded by his band, Kentucky Thunder and more besides Ricky Skaggs revisits his biggest songs from the early 1980s when he was a 'country' act to give them a bluegrass airing. That isn’t to say they didn’t posses a fair share of bluegrass flavourings the first time because they did, and although said to be ‘bluegrass’ this time it doesn’t prevent guest slots from Buck White (piano) on three tracks and Jeff Taylor (accordian) on two. It will come of no surprise to those who know Ricky and his music that they work, perfectly in all instances as Ricky goes back to his country roots! Go figure the album's title. Then again isn’t most of the best music the kind that crosses boundaries without you being conscious enough of it for it to stop you in your tracks to question it. This is what happens here. For it is quite simply a mixture of both —despite the title of the 14-track offering. Plus, it is a measure of his fondness for the songs they he has gone back to them.
From the off I am up there with him and the band. As they tender a fabulous take of Guy Clark’s ‘Heartbroke’ that is likewise followed by lively toe-tappers ‘Honey (Open That Door)’ that has The Whites; Cheryl and Sharon White on harmony vocals and Buck star. The aptly entitled ‘Cajun Moon’ with roving accordian and fiddle, banjo (etc) over flows in joyous tones as does his version of bluegrass giant, Bill Monroe’s “Uncle Pen’. While on possessing some of the finest guitar and more besides picking, ‘Country Boy’ is one of those songs you can’t stop listening too (and instantly press replay! Skaggs and the band throw everything they have at it and like with the original that had co-writer and session man, band performer Albert Lee play some fabulous electric lead guitar (this time it is Cody Kilby who like on a few more instances on the record, playing the solos) on it, it once gain hit the spot.
Away from the more uptempo material, Skaggs also features sublime versions of ‘Crying My Heart Out Over You’, Sonny Curtis’ ‘He Was On To Something (So He Made You)’ that unlike ten of the tracks featured it was never a No 1 country hit (‘You've Got A Lover’ would have made it 11 but it was edged out by the smallest of margins). As for the previously unreleased heart-felt gospel song that concludes the record it is anything but, bluegrass as piano and strings escort Ricky home on ‘Somebody’s Prayin’. Others worthy of mention include the beautiful steel guitar warmed ‘I Don’t Care’ (Cindy Walker), a smart working of Flatt and Scruggs’ “Don’t Get Above Your Raising’ and ‘Lovin’ Only Me’. That speaks of love and you the thread is spun as he pledges his love for the woman of his desire as regulars Paul Brewster, Mark Fain, Kilby and Andy Leftwich and Ricky who on the record plays everything guitars, mandolin, piano to cajun triangle are faultless. Great to have the pick of his country hits on the one record and for genuine bluegrass pickers do the honours.
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