Del McCoury

Snapshot: Del at 75

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In 1963, Del McCoury landed his first big break in music when he joined Bill Monroe's legendary group the Blue Grass Boys. Half a century later, McCoury is widely recognized as one of the most important figures in bluegrass -- an influential vocalist, an expert instrumentalist, the leader of one of the best and most popular groups in his field, and an artist who keeps one eye on tradition while also blazing new creative trails. As McCoury celebrates his 75th birthday in 2014, he's marked the occasion with this collection, which features ten of his most popular songs. While McCoury has been playing some of these tunes since the '60s, the versions of some of the older tracks here are re-recordings that appeared on the 2009 set Celebrating 50 Years of Del McCoury (which, like this set, was released by his own McCoury Music label). However, the strength of the performances is uniformly excellent, and it's not hard to imagine many fans would prefer these to some of the older takes. Of course, since Celebrating 50 Years of Del McCoury included a hefty 50 tracks, Snapshot: Del at 75 seems a bit skimpy by comparison, and 2009's By Request, which culled 14 songs from the 50-song box, seems like a better compromise than this, especially since it includes several of the same tracks. But if you're looking for a short sampler that will introduce you to Del McCoury and his music, Snapshot: Del at 75 isn't a bad way to go; the songs are fine, the performances are splendid, and this does a great job of capturing the sound and spirit of McCoury's best mature work. There's a real need for a cross-licensed career-spanning anthology that would summarize Del McCoury's long and distinguished career; Snapshot does not aim to fill that gap, but if you want a brief reminder of the excellence of his catalog in the new millennium, this does the job well enough.

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