Two things can happen to longtime groups: they can become dated, oldies acts as new styles supplant theirs or they can watch the world catch up with their innovations. Such is the latter case for Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen, a group who can trace their history to the 1950s. Unlike most of the bluegrass groups of the '50s and '60s, the Country Gentlemen added contemporary songs to their repertoire, placing the group in the vanguard of the progressive bluegrass movement. While 45 Years of Memories may sound like a best-of package, guitarist Waller, banjoist Greg Corbett, mandolinist Darin Aldridge, and bassist Ronnie Davis lay down new versions of a number of classic Country Gentlemen songs. Pieces like "House of the Rising Sun," "The City of New Orleans," and "Dark As a Dungeon" will be familiar to fans and non-fans alike. What is notable, though, is the ability of the band to take a tired piece like "House of the Rising Sun" and offer a fresh, upbeat take on it. Fun odes to no-count heroes like "Catfish John" and proto-feminist "Amelia Earhart" spice up this collection, while odes to the wandering, "Circuit Rider" and "Traveling Kind," reflect the lifestyle of a working bluegrass band. Waller remains in good voice, and the additions of guitarist Greg Luck and dobroist Rob Ickes fill out the band's sound. 45 Years of Memories is a satisfying release and will be warmly received by old and new fans alike.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.