Like Coming Back to Old Friends

Unit of Measure (Rounder)
The Tony Rice Unit

By Bob Mitchell

Unit of Measure is a picker's paradise filled with great musical ideas. It is an all-instrumental release with more than able assistance from Rickie Simpkins on fiddle; Wyatt Rice on guitar, Ronnie Simpkins on bass, and Jimmy Gaudreau on mandolin.

Half of the tracks will be familiar to fans of Rice. This project begins with a remarkable and imaginative re-make of "Manzanita," the original of which was released twenty years ago on an album of the same name. And when Tony lays down his latest version of "Gold Rush," one can only say he sure knows how to get the most out of a tune (the original version was on a release entitled Church Street Blues). Other old musical friends include a fluid "Jerusalem Ridge" and fanciful "Swing 42." Tony and his friends also deftly move through a soulful "House of the Rising Sun" and on the loveliest arrangements I've heard of the timeless romantic "Shenandoah" and the graceful "Danny Boy."

"High Noon" is haunting and beautiful, and Rice's new cover for "Beaumont Rag" is ingenious. Finally, there is a nifty new look at "Sally Goodin," a blistering finale for this CD.

In short, Tony Rice is an unparalleled visionary talent, a gift to our time. His technique is creative and resourceful. If you want to start the New Year right, get yourself a copy of this one.