In 1980, guitarist Tony Rice got the idea of organizing a bluegrass supergroup to record an album made up strictly of old-school bluegrass standards -- no bluegrass arrangements of Bob Dylan or Eric Clapton songs, no jazzy originals, no funky instrumentation, just the classics played completely straight in the style of Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs. So he called up mandolinist Doyle Lawson, banjo picker J.D. Crowe, fiddler Bobby Hicks, dobro player Jerry Douglas, and bassist Todd Phillips, and they did just that; they called their project The Bluegrass Album, and referred to themselves simply as the Bluegrass Album Band. The project was both a commercial and a critical success, and was so much fun for the participants that they got together and did it again. And again. And again. And again, for a total of five albums over the course of nine years. When compact discs became the preferred format for music buyers a few years after the first volume in the series was released, the Rounder label condensed the four albums into a single CD and called it, inevitably, the The Bluegrass Compact Disc. It includes 20 highlight tracks from the four albums, including thrilling renditions of "Blue Ridge Cabin Home" and "On My Way Back to the Old Home," as well as such gospel gems as "Take Me in the Lifeboat" and "Model Church." Great as this album is, however, it should not take the place of the complete albums (all of which have been issued individually on CD) in any bluegrass lover's collection.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson