Bastards of the Bluegrass

Best of the Bluegrass Mandolin (CMH Records)

By Larry Alexander

The mandolin is the instrument of inspiration and love. Bluegrass/newgrass music represents the heart of the evolution of America. I feel the pain of my ancestors when I listen to the words and the haunting tunes of traditional folk music, and I get a true appreciation of what was done to make my America.

What's more, I love the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra, a unique group of musicians all Kentuckians should support, and I will sit and listen to mandolin music all night long at a Bluegrass festival.

But I will not listen to this CD again.

I thought I would enjoy this CD and genuinely looked forward to appreciating the session. Unfortunately, this collection merely plays on the remaining popularity of "O Brother Where Art Thou," and is trying to sucker unsuspecting listeners into the BIG BUY.

Don't get me wrong - this compilation features some traditional bluegrass played in an acceptable manner. The players even make attempts at "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Margaritaville" and "Black Magic Woman." The problem is that, while these are great songs, they do not lend well to this kind of Bluegrass interpretation.

Taken separately, some of the cuts stand well, but as a unit this compilation is a bastardized approach to Bluegrass mandolin - or, in fact, any mandolin. It lacks character and the title is misleading. "Best of"? My goodness gracious, do not buy this. If you think you really want this CD, at least wait a couple of months. Rest assured, it is coming soon to a bargain bin near you.