The Bluegrass Album Band

Lonesome Moonlight: Songs of Bill Monroe

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The all-star pickup group who calls themselves the Bluegrass Album Band (after their first album, which was called simply The Bluegrass Album and on which the band performed without a name) has hardly recorded a weak song in the course of their strangely ad hoc existence, but the group never sounds better than when they are playing the music of Bill Monroe, the man who is generally credited with having invented the genre and who coined the term "high lonesome" to describe his own vocal style and the essential character of his compositions. Lonesome Moonlight is culled from the Bluegrass Album Band's six albums and finds the group in a super-charged mode on almost every track, from the powerfully mournful "On My Way Back to the Old Home" that opens the program to the incongruously jaunty "River of Death" that closes it. In between are joyful and virtuosic renditions of the classic Monroe instrumentals "Cheyenne" and "Brown County Breakdown," as well as one of the tightest performances of "Molly and Tenbrooks" ever recorded. As always, Tony Rice's lead voice is a major highlight, but the presence of former Monroe sideman Vassar Clements on fiddle is another, and his twin fiddle work with Bobby Hicks on " Lonesome Moonlight Waltz" is brilliant. Highly recommended.

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