Reviewed by C. Eric Banister
When Bill Monroe died in 1996, Ricky Skaggs felt a heavy burden to continue the tradition Monroe had started just over 50 years before. He soon returned from country to his roots performing only bluegrass, and his newest release is a fantastic effort to remind newer fans where it all began.
Mining the original 28 sides cut by the band, that featured Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise and Howard Watts, Skaggs selected 12 songs ranging from the well-known "Bluegrass Breakdown" and "Little Cabin Home On The Hill" to lesser known gems like "Goin' Back To Old Kentucky" and "Toy Heart."
For this tribute, Skaggs forgoes note-for-note re-creations and as is to be expected, Skaggs and his band do a masterful job of bringing these classics to life. He does pull in a couple of ex-Blue Grass Boys for help. Del McCoury lends his soaring tenor to "The Old Crossroad" and Earl Scruggs, the only surviving member of the original groundbreaking band picks his banjo on "Goin' Back To Old Kentucky."
The album is a great album in and of itself, but it also serves as a great starting point for anyone interested in digging deeper into the bluegrass tradition.