Various Artists

World's Hottest Bluegrass

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CMH has gone from issuing bluegrass versions of songs borrowed from the Who and the String Cheese Incident to issuing the occasional, down-home bluegrass compilation. World's Hottest Bluegrass has to be one of the most eclectic collections of mountain music ever released. Classic acts like Jim & Jesse and the Osborne Brothers share disc space with old-timers like the Stonemans and lesser-known pickers like Chubby Anthony. The songs and instrumentals live up to the album's title by keeping the pace upbeat and joyous. Grandpa Jones sings a rambunctious version of "Are You From Dixie?" while Joe Maphis lends his nifty guitar picking to "Liberty" and "Fiddle Pickin'." Wynn Osborne contributes "Bluegrass Breakdown," one of the odder pieces on the album, along with a fairly straight version of "Earl's Breakdown." The Osborne Brothers show off their knack for sterling harmony on "Hillbilly Fever," while Jim & Jesse delve into novelty terrain with "Diesel on My Tail." The Stonemans' "Heartbreak Mountain" includes a tasty bit of dobro picking, as does Josh Graves and Bobby Smith's "Shiloh March." The collection ends with Anthony offering up a lively version of "Lee Highway Blues," a nice tune to end on. While the picture of the burning banjo on the cover of World's Hottest Bluegrass may frighten anyone who plays acoustic music, the disc itself should have a more soothing effect.

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