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Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen

45 Years of Memories – 2002 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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CDs by Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen

It's hard not to love the The Country Gentlemen. The band is one of the most innovative and influential bands in the history of bluegrass music. Through the years, household names like John Duffey, Doyle Lawson, Eddie Adcock, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Bill Emerson, Jimmy Gaudreau and others have passed through and left an imprint on the band. Through it all though, for close to half a century, it has been lead singer/guitarist Charlie Waller fronting the band with a vocal style that few in any musical genre can match.

Still in excellent voice despite some health problems in recent years, the new record features Waller and the current edition of the 'Gents revisiting some of the bands' more requested songs, including "City of New Orleans," "Amelia Earhart," "The Traveling Kind," "Dark As A Dungeon," "Don Quixote" and "House of The Rising Sun." Though he's been performing these songs for years with different configurations of the band, these new recordings manage to sound fresh and new. As always, it's Waller's voice that is the centerpiece, and longtime fans won't be disappointed. It's not a stretch to say he sounds as good here as he has in a long time.

Waller is often overlooked when people talk about pioneers in bluegrass. Though his style is a lot less traditional than either Stanley or Monroe, he is one of the all-time greats. This album shows that Waller and the Country Gentlemen is still one of the best bands going.