Billy Strange

Railroad Man [1991]

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This CD actually contains two LPs' worth of material, the contents of both the 1968 Railroad Man LP and its predecessor, Folk Hits. And apart from the unnecessary train sounds that open and close Railroad Man's portion of the CD (produced by Gene Norman), it makes for great fun as a listening experience and is a satisfying glimpse of the poppier side of bluegrass music. Don Parmley's banjo and Bud Coleman's 12-string rhythm guitar (and some classical as well) give Billy Strange very colorful accompaniment, and Hal Blaine's drums are in there somewhere, too. The material runs the gamut from the traditional ("Wabash Cannonball") to the silly ("Last Train to Clarksville," which is fun) and the unexpected ("Chattanooga Choo Choo," which is more fun). The Folk Hits material, produced by Cliffie Stone, reads like an early-'60s set list at any college coffeehouse, including "Tom Dooley," "Cotton Fields," "Silver Threads and Golden Needles," "Green, Green," "Blowin' in the Wind," "If I Had a Hammer," etc. The sound is excellent and the annotation, though limited, is informative.

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