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Country Gentleman: The Best Of Ricky Skaggs [2-CD SET]
Genres: Country, Pop
Multi-instrumentalist Ricky Skaggs is one of those country stars who's done it all. At age seven he appeared on TV with Flatt & Scruggs, by 15 he was a member of Ralph Stanley's legendary outfit, and by 23 he was the drivi... more »
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Multi-instrumentalist Ricky Skaggs is one of those country stars who's done it all. At age seven he appeared on TV with Flatt & Scruggs, by 15 he was a member of Ralph Stanley's legendary outfit, and by 23 he was the driving force behind Emmylou Harris's Hot Band. On his own Skaggs has created everything from bluegrass to trad-country to Nashville pop. Country Gentleman collects the first 10 years of his remarkable solo career, and it includes plenty of hits like "Heartbroke," "Honey (Open That Door)," "Highway 40 Blues," and his No. 1 version of Bill Monroe's signature tune "Uncle Pen." Start with this, and then check out the fabulous Bluegrass Rules. --Michael Ruby
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All the Best over Two CDs
James E. Bagley | Sanatoga, PA USA | 08/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the early '80s, Ricky Skaggs was one of the leaders of the New Traditionalist movement who steered country away from the pop crossover stylings typified by Kenny Rogers and Barbara Mandrell and back toward its roots. Skaggs' sound is actually an amalgamation of bluegrass, western swing, and traditional country, with vocals that drive home his old-fashioned, mountain upbringing.
Not possessing the matinee idol good looks of a George Strait, it is a tribute to his immense skills as a musician (fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and banjo) and singer (one of themost supple tenors around) that Skaggs was able to make such a big impact in modern country music. An impact this 32 track, 2 disc best of captures with every significant hit Skaggs recorded for the Sugar Hill and Epic labels between 1981 and 1992.
Skaggs' early releases were dominated by remakes of songs made popular in the 50s and 60s by his bluegrass heroes with Flatt & Scruggs "Don't Get Above Your Raisin'" and "Crying My Heart Out Over You" getting the set off to a lesiurely start, followed by Reno & Smiley's "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could," the Stanley Brothers' "Don't Cheat In Our Hometown" and Bill Monroe's toe-tapping "Uncle Pen." Interspersed covers of Webb Pierce's "I Don't Care" and "Honey (Open That Door)" offer a change of pace dripping with classic country and western style.
As the first disc winds to an end and the second disc begins, Skaggs adds a bit more variety to his musical pallet. Power pickers like "Country Boy," moving ballads such as "You Make Me Feel Like A Man," and western swing on the order of "Love's Gonna Get You Someday" enter the fray, but bluegrass remains the predominant style throughout. Disc two also includes some great collaborations: the gently rollicking "Love Can't Ever Get Better Than This" with wife Sharon White and the fiddlin' foot-stomper "Restless" with the New Nashville Cats (Mark O'Connor, Steve Wariner, and Vince Gill).
By the early 90s, traditional country was bombarded by the noisier sounds of contemporary artists like Garth Brooks, and country radio was concentrating on artists under 40. Skaggs was no longer an upper-chart placing presence and in 1992, he and Epic parted ways. Thankfully this thorough document exists of Skaggs at his best to remind the younger country audience (and artists) that a little bit of bluegrass is good for your health - and country radio."
Bluegrass music for the eighties
Peter Durward Harris | Leicester England | 02/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The success that Ricky had in the eighties is nothing short of sensational. In the wake of the Urban cowboy craze, along came a bluegrass singer and picker to take the country charts by storm. Bluegrass purists didn't approve because Ricky added a drummer to the line-up in order to appeal to a wider audience. Yet this one concession to commercialism was a master stroke. For many people, the first bluegrass music they ever heard was by Ricky. I hadn't listened to a lot of bluegrass before Ricky came along, so he helped my interest in the music to grow.Among the classic tracks here are Crying my heart out over you, I don't care, Heartbroke, Highway 40 blues, Don't cheat in our hometown, Honey open that door and Uncle Pen. All those tracks were from his first three Epic albums, which I still think were his best original albums.Ricky continued to record plenty of great songs, so his chart success continued for a few more years, reaching the top of the charts in the late eighties with Loving only me. Ricky showed how bluegrass could appeal to a wider audience. Although he faded from the spotlight in the nineties, he continued to make excellent music. Meanwhile, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Ralph Stanley and others have further increased the popularity of bluegrass music.This collection contains all the essential tracks from Ricky's most successful years, including all his big hits on the country charts."
Excellent Overview Of Skaggs' CBS/Epic Years
Steve Vrana | Aurora, NE | 11/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are few artists who can match Ricky Skaggs pedigree. By the time he was in his mid-twenties he had played with such artists as Ralph Stanley, the Country Gentlemen and Emmylou Harris (having replaced Rodney Crowell in the Hot Band). He is also one of bluegrass music's standout musicians being equally adept on guitar, mandolin and fiddle. Skaggs' 13-year tenure at CBS/Epic resulted in 31 Top 40 country hits--and they're all here. What Skaggs was able to do was to add a bluegrass sensibility to country music. His first single was the Flatt & Scruggs chestnut "Don't Get Above Your Raisin'." He even managed to take Bill Monroe's signature song "Uncle Pen" to the top of the country charts--the first time in more than twenty years a bluegrass song topped the charts when Flatt & Scruggs had done it with "The Ballad of Jed Clampett." One of the many highlights on this collection is the superstar aggregate dubbed The New Nashville Cats (featuring Vince Gill, Steve Wariner and Mark O'Connor) on Carl Perkins' "Restless."What many people tend to forget is how radical Skaggs' music was for the time. In 1980 country music was dominated by mainstream acts like Kenny Rogers. Skaggs' brand of country placed him at the forefront of the new-traditionalist movement long before George Strait, Randy Travis or Dwight Yoakam. I applauded Skaggs' return to traditional bluegrass music with albums like Bluegrass Rules! and his most recent Ancient Tones. But for those fans who labelled Skaggs a traitor when he signed with CBS/Epic, I encourage you to go back and listen to these songs. There is much here to savor and enjoy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED"