Michael Martin Murphey

Buckaroo Blue Grass II: Riding Song

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Murphy's last bluegrass album, Buckaroo Bluegrass, was nominated for a Best Traditional Bluegrass Album Grammy, and the second installment ought to follow suit. Murphy has assembled another winning team of pros for volume two, including Sam Bush and Ronny McCoury on mandolin, Rob Ickes on Dobro, and Hard Rain vocalist Carrie Hassler. The program is another mix of Murphy chestnuts and a cover of the Glasser Brothers' "Running Gun," a tune recorded by Marty Robbins on his classic Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. "Gun" sounds great as a bluegrass tune. Murphy and lead guitarist Andy Blaylock harmonize on the lead vocal of the tragic tune with Blaylock's rippling lead lines and Andy Leftwich's fiddle dominating the arrangement. Murphy's honky tonk lament "Backslider's Wine," recorded by both Jerry Jeff Walker and Gary Stewart, gets a mellow reading with Ronny McCoury's mandolin and Andy Hall's Dobro adding just the right heartbroken touch to the music. "Swans Against the Sun," the title track of Murphy's 1976 country pop album gets a laid-back reprise with Murphy delivering one of the record's most heartfelt vocals. "Wildfire," the tune that gave Murphy his first number one hit, is reprised with Carrie Hassler singing the harmonies that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Jeff Hanna and Jimmy Ibbotson supplied on the hit recording. The song's lost none of its ghostly power over the years. Rob Ickes plays the classical coda on Dobro. Other keepers include the tongue twisting "Blue Sky Riding Song" a showcase for McCoury's mandolin, Leftwich's fiddle and Charlie Cushman's rhythmic banjo; the redneck hippie tune "Cosmic Cowboy," another anthem made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker, and another take of "Running Blood" that gives the pickers a chance to show off their chops.

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