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  • Joe Ross
    Hello, I agree with Donald T. on this. Here s my review of Hag s forthcoming bluegrass album. I haven t uploaded it to my reviews site yet because it s not
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 3, 2007
      Hello, I agree with Donald T. on this. Here's my review of Hag's
      forthcoming bluegrass album. I haven't uploaded it to my reviews site
      yet because it's not available for purchase until October 2nd. You
      might also want to read Brenda Hough's review on CBA's website:
      http://www.cbaontheweb.org/reviews2.asp (there are 1,068 other
      bluegrass album reviews there too for your reading enjoyment if you
      just have a surplus of leisure time).
      Piqon... Joe Ross

      MERLE HAGGARD – The Bluegrass Sessions
      McCoury Music MCM-0008
      EMAIL weinstein [at] bighassle.com or Tmumba [at] aol.com
      TEL. 212-619-1360 or 818-702-6253
      Playing Time – 43:45

      Traditional country music stalwart Merle Haggard considers bluegrass
      people as "the salt of the earth …kind of a no-baloney audience." Of
      the many albums he's made, none has ever been bluegrass. I do know
      that he performs a kick-up-your-heels rendition of the old-time and
      bluegrassy "Get Along Home Cindy," and maybe that would've been a
      good choice for this session too. Merle's also said that "If you're
      going to play something and you're going to hook it, you'd better
      hook it good. – it either has to be real funny or it has to be real
      serious." After this assembled band attempted and failed to capture
      Merle magic in an old bluegrass standard, "I Wonder Where You Are
      Tonight," Marty Stuart, producer Ronnie Reno and recording engineer
      Lee Groitzch took a different approach to capture Hag's soul. They
      strategically gathered in a circle around a couple of mics and began
      recording in a more cozy, friendly style. Merle sang and strummed his
      Martin Blue Yodel guitar. The all-stars who wrapped their playing
      around his vocalizing were Marty Stuart (mandolin, guitar), Rob Ickes
      (Dobro, slide guitar), Charlie Cushman (banjo, guitar), Carl Jackson
      (guitar), Ben Isaacs (bass), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle), Scott Joss
      (fiddle) and J.D. Wilkes (harmonica).

      After two days of working, a cherished record was born with classic
      country ala Jimmie Rodgers and Delmore Brothers, along with a heaping
      helping of Merle's own classics like Mama's Hungry Eyes, Big City,
      Holding Things Together, and Mama's Prayers. To also capture the
      influential septuagenarian's soul, five new songs written by Merle
      include Pray, America What Happened?, Learning to Live With Myself,
      Motorcycle Mama and Wouldn't That Be Something. Tenor harmonies are
      sung by Carl Jackson, and Alison Krauss must have stopped by to track
      in a high baritone harmony for "Mama's Hungry Eyes." Acoustic
      versions of Hag's classics are a treat to hear, even though there are
      times (e.g. Big City) when the instrumentalists seem to step on each
      other's toes a bit, perhaps due to the lack of rehearsal or unclear
      roles. Some songs have Merle directing traffic by calling out the
      musician's name or instrument whose break is forthcoming. While the
      time was limited, the album's thrills are plentiful. Marty Stuart's
      mandolin makes a particularly dazzling impression in "Jimmie Rodgers
      Blues Medley."

      Of course, there isn't an abundance of driving banjo-centric
      material, but we are given acoustic expressive Haggard who is
      anything but wasted and worn. A ten-time winner of CMA's Top Male
      Vocalist Award (1965-82), he still shakes the foundation in a house
      of lyrics. He still draws inspiration from the likes of Lefty
      Frizzell, Hank Williams and Bob Wills. His life has given him a well
      of experiences from which to draw material. The new songs have some
      of that same ol' characteristic, archetypal, well-loved Haggard
      insight. He admits that a hard lesson in life is "Learning to Live
      with Myself." He's been very grateful that his "Mama's Prayers"
      continue to work. In classic Haggard style, some of his most profound
      advice might just come in his most straight-forward and simple
      offering at less than three minutes in length called "Pray." That
      song declares "Get your mind off yourself / think of somebody else /
      and pray, and pray."

      Back in the old days, Muskogee was humorously labelled "a place where
      even squares can have a ball." Today some of his perspectives seem
      deeper and more profound as he sings that the "truth that stood for
      years is down the drain." In the song, "America What Happened?" his
      social commentary about change in America illustrates a nostalgic
      longing for a bygone era. "How did we ever go so wrong? / Did we get
      too high? / Did we sleep too long?" With the magnitude of his stellar
      songwriting and singing, Hag's got the potential to create a
      magnificent bluegrass masterpiece with simple, timeless messages. He
      already won the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in
      2006, and while "The Bluegrass Sessions" may not achieve landmark
      status, it certainly comes close and captures Merle's soulful
      acoustic sound. (Joe Ross)
    • rustyautom
      I imagine Alison won t be too flattered by the masculine description of her voice. Just splittin facial hairs ;-) Russ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baritone
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 4, 2007
        I imagine Alison won't be too flattered by the masculine description of
        her voice.

        Just splittin' facial hairs ;-)



        --- In nwbluegrass@yahoogroups.com, "Joe Ross" <rossjoe@...> wrote:
        and Alison Krauss must have stopped by to track
        > in a high baritone harmony for "Mama's Hungry Eyes."
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