Grandfather's Greatest Hits
David Holt
High Windy Audio

By Ronnie Dee

He ain't lyin', folks. When I saw what was on this CD, I thought it was taken from one of the semi-annual hoots in Ken Pyle's backyard. What with "John Henry," "Fire On the Mountain," "Cripple Creek," "Soldiers Joy," "Dixie," "Little Log Cabin in the Lane" and "Wildwood Flower," it truly is "A Collection of Mountain Music Classics."

David Holt (who plays the banjo better than I) put this album together with some of the best. Doc Watson (who plays the guitar better than I), Mark O'Connor (who plays the fiddle better than ... oh, you get the picture), Chet Atkins, Duane Eddy and Jerry Douglas are among the more noted musicians who sit in on this session.

The most outstanding tunes here are: "Pretty Polly," whose haunting melodies are always spellbinding, and "Wreck of the Old 97." "Polly" is given special treatment with Holt's frailing banjo and O'Connor's plaintive fiddle, and "97" is highlighted by some of the more interesting bass runs by Larry Paxton; nothing spectacular, just a good, solid tempo that keeps things moving. In fact, the whole album is like that: nothing fancy or innovative, just good, solid picking by the best in the business. And I had a good time with the "Old-Time Medley" piece, too.

The album could have been much better with stronger vocals. I ached to hear (okay, I wasn't that involved) 舒 but I would have preferred to hear Doc Watson sing "Corrina," Roy Acuff do "Wabash Cannonball" or someone like Pop Wagner, Mike Seeger or Norman Blake do some of the others. David Holt is a mean instrumentalist, but his singing lacks punch and authenticity for real mountain music. Even the background vocals are weak. Most of the production simply lacks fire. Was I expecting too much? I don't think so, because I know these guys can do better; I've heard them.

Some of the liner notes are interesting. For example: Most folks believe "Wabash Cannonball" was written by Roy Acuff. -- Not!! It was penned by one William Kindt in 1904. In fact, the first time Acuff recorded the Cannonball, he didn't even sing it; Sam Hatcher did.

In the final analysis, I was disappointed in this collection, considering who is on it. If you are into old-time music, you probably have better renditions of almost everything here on another album, tape or CD. It might have been more enjoyable if Holt hadn't made such a big splash about his cohorts. If you're looking for an ensemble session, I recommend The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will the Circle Be Unbroken albums. I'm sorry, David. I don't enjoy giving negative reviews, but that's the way I see it.