Sugar Hill Records: A Retrospective [Box Set]

Various Artists

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Sugar Hill Records: A Retrospective [Box Set] Review

by J. Scott McClintock

With over 25 years of quality music in the can, it's certainly not too soon for Sugar Hill Records to take a look back with their box set Sugar Hill Records: A Retrospective. Founder and label head Barry Poss' love for quality, roots-based music has garnered his label a whole mess of respect (and 12 Grammy Awards), and his impeccable taste continues to add a mark of quality to any band he picks up. As sprawling and diverse as this four-disc collection is, it's pretty cohesive (Poss' good judgment at work). From the plaintive early work of Ricky Skaggs to the charming, shambling rent-party that is the Gourds, Sugar Hill Records: A Retrospective covers a ton of ground, yet it does so within logical (if loosely set) parameters. The bottom line is, it's quite a spread -- but it's all quality. No one can deny the importance of such iconic roots artists as Doc Watson and Dolly Parton, and most will agree that new-guard artists like Robert Earl Keen, Jr., James McMurtry, Townes Van Zandt, and Rodney Crowell have earned the right to share disc space with those legends. There are many classics to be found here, as well as many classics-in-the-making, but there is also plenty of just plain fun to be found -- check out the (almost) original New South's "Freeborn Man," Terry Allen's "Gone to Texas," and go a round or two with the Bad Livers or the Gourds -- it's a good time! Whether you're old hat with this stuff or just now discovering the joys of roots-based music, there's hardly a collection that rivals this Sugar Hill box in terms of depth and variety. The 80-page booklet ought to be able to get anyone up to speed on the back stories of the artists featured here, and the bonus DVD will further enlighten the curious with interviews and video performances. Highly recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 5

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
blue highlight denotes track pick