The Flying Mules - Songs, Tunes & Riddles
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Songs, Tunes & Riddles (Wildstone Audio, 2000)

The Flying Mules

Reviewed by John Lupton

The Flying Mules are a St. Louis-based quartet (Marc Rennard, fiddle; John Higgins, guitar; Charlie Pfeffer, mandolin; Michael Prokopf, bass) with a flair for weaving elements of bluegrass, old time, folk and swing into a fabric that sounds pretty good.

While not overly flashy on either the vocal or instrumental side, they work well together in demonstrating that it doesn't necessarily have to be fast and fancy to be good. The 14 tracks draw not only on traditional and original tunes, but also from an eclectic assortment of sources that gives the disc an adventurous feel - Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Hoyt Axton and Sting.

Of particular note is their understated rendition of "With Body And Soul," a signature Monroe performance tune (though written by Virginia Stauffer) that the Mules slow down and soften up a bit to nice effect. Sting's "Fields Of Gold" comes off nicely as well. The disc is well-paced, thoughtfully arranged, solidly performed and makes for a good listen from front to back. (Box 511580, St. Louis, MO 63151, 800-296-1918, Wildstone)

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