“Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947″ (SkaggsFamilyRecords)
To kick off his latest record, Ricky Skaggs rips into the fierce mandolin introduction of “Goin’ Back to Old Kentucky” the same way Bill Monroe did when he was busy birthing bluegrass.
Throughout “Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass,” Skaggs and his crack band Kentucky Thunder remain faithful to the original renditions of ’40s tunes by Monroe and his Original Bluegrass Band, which included Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. There are the same keening vocals and the same solos at breakneck speed, only now they’re in stereo.
Skaggs and his band often replicate the original tempos, solos and intros, even down to the slow guitar strum that opens “Mansions for Me.” But the group does take a few liberties – Cody Kilby’s jaw-dropping guitar work highlights the instrumental “Bluegrass Breakdown,” while Lester Flatt was content merely to play G runs over and over.
Scruggs – the lone surviving member of Monroe’s group – makes a guest appearance on the opening cut. In the end, the 12-song set strikes a proper balance between reverent tribute and good fun, and the record serves as a fine showcase for Skaggs and company. At times they play faster than a person can listen, and all too soon “Honoring the Fathers” is over.