Leaving Behind a Legacy

Songs of the American Spirit (Pinecastle)
Charlie Waller and The Country Gentlemen

By Bob Mitchell

The name Charlie Waller is synonymous with fine Bluegrass, so it's difficult to objective when a legend of his stature starts to sing and play. After launching the Country Gentlemen in 1957, the recently deceased Waller recorded numerous hits and earned a place in the Bluegrass Hall of Honor. His last project is further affirmation that he was one of the greatest voices in the history of industry. Three of the eleven new tracks are powerful patriotic selections, notably Merle Haggard's "Fighting Side Of Me" and a brand new recording of his timeless classic, "Crying in the Chapel." Waller's performance was consistently smooth. His rich voice was filled with honest emotion but don't take just my word for it; Ricky Skaggs once noted, "Waller is one of the best singers I've ever heard."

The CD was produced by a fellow "Gentleman" and Bluegrass Hall of Honor member, Eddie Adcock. Songs of the American Spirit has the classic Country Gentlemen sound with a bit of a modern spin. Waller, as always, is supported by first-rate musicians. Darin Aldridge is impressive on mandolin, lead and rhythm guitar and harmony and lead vocals. (Aldridge has been a busy man. In addition to being part of this project, he recently released "Call It A Day," a new solo project on Pinecastle.) Greg Corbett provides his usual steady banjo in addition to noteworthy harmony and lead vocal. Randy Waller contributes lead and rhythm guitar, slide guitar, harmony and lead vocals. Ronnie Davis and Les Deaton alternate with their solid upright bass. Even the bus driver, Bill Dailey makes a substantial contribution. He wrote "A Miner's Life," with a haunting melody that is perfect for Waller's voice. This is an enjoyable recording designed to provide hours of listening pleasure.

My only concern relates to incomplete liner notes that prohibit me from acknowledging the work of specific musicians. The harmony was outstanding on "River Of Tears" and "Between Fire and Water," but who was it? There is an impressive guitar solo in Randall Hylton's "My Heart Is On The Mend," but who was it? I suggest future liner notes specify, by track, who the musicians are and what they are contributing. ?>