Old Meets New Somewhere In Between

NOW: That's What I Call Bluegrass (CMH Records)

Multiple artists

By Bob Mitchell

NOW is an interesting collection of old and new selections. Lester Flatt's opening track, "Orange Blossom Special," is a live festival recording featuring a vocal by Marty Stuart and a novelty segment with "Tater" Tate. Stuart is also featured on the classic "Somebody Loves You Darling." The Bluegrass Cardinals provide an exceptional "I'm Just A Used To Be To You." There is also a lively arrangement of "Bringing In The Georgia Mail" with Don Reno and Bill Harrel.

Meanwhile, the incomparable Mac Wiseman provides excellent interpretations of "I Wonder How The Old Folks Are At Home," and "I Still Write Your Name In The Sand." And another live festival recording features master bluegrass fiddler Chubby Wise on "Lee Highway Blues." Other five-star tracks include "Hillbilly Blues" and "Sunny Side of The Mountain" from the fabulous Osborne Brothers and Jim and Jessie's classic, "Diesel On My Tail." Yes indeed, that's what I call Bluegrass. A tip of the reviewer's hat to CMH for preserving these artists and their unique music.

Interspersed in this generous nineteen-track release, the Nashville Superpickers back up lesser-known artists. Mark Thorton provides a progressive instrumental titled "That Smell;" however, the unnecessary inclusion of a piano makes it sound like easy listening. Kenny Blackwell's instrumental, "Tripping Blues," is what I refer to as graygrass - that is to say, it's not really bluegrass, as it was created by the first generation of bluegrass musicians. Although many of today's groups use instruments such as a mandolin, guitar, fiddle and banjo, their music lacks the intensity and soul represented in the traditional tracks listed above. Brent Truitt provides two additional graygrass instrumentals, "Paint It Black" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." The use of drums and electric bass make for a pop/country feel rather than authentic bluegrass.

Unfortunately, the liner notes do not list recording dates and contain limited information about band personnel. Take this disc for what it is.