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Here we have the Gospel Tribute to Bill Monroe and what a magical affair it is. As you have Smiley & Reno, Don Reno, The Stanley Brothers, Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, The Country Gentlemen, The Lilly Brothers and The Seldom Scene among others all under the one roof perform songs either written by Monroe or popularised by him.
Bluegrass gospel music has long held a special place in acoustic music and with its close four-part harmonies (two and three part too) it can raise the hairs on the back of your neck. As is the case here on a number of occasions, Like when The Seldom Scene perform ‘Working On A Building’ and ‘The Old Cross Road’ (w/ Linda Ronstadt) plus The Country Gentlemen who open this treasure trove with ‘A Beautiful Life’. This is when the vocals of John Duffy, John Starling, Eddie Adcock and Ed Ferris join in unison, oh, boy it doesn’t get any better than this. What brilliant pickin’ too, as Duffy (mandolin) in particular shows the way and that is not the end of the wonderful instrumental prowess as you have George Shuffler (guitar) and Henry Dockery (upright bass) assist Ralph Stanley on the stripped down ‘Uncloudy Day’. Ralph also has ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and I Am A Pilgrim’ among the 17 songs. A classic if ever there were one!
While he is partnered by his brother, Carter Stanley on ‘Mother’s Only Sleeping’ and there is a wonderful entry from Lost & Found who, on ‘Boat Of Love’ produce a terrific display of old-time quartet singing. To set a benchmark typical of the acts featured. On listening to the latter you can see where Ricky Skaggs obtained his hunger for perfection; because Lost & Found come near as it gets to achieve that!
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