Too Good For Words

A Retrospective (Sugar Hill)
Multiple artists

By Bob Mitchell

Great balls of fire! I don't know where or how to start a review that could easily use all of the print space on this page. Four discs with 81 tracks offer a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. A bonus DVD contains insightful artist interviews, rare videos and a photo gallery. In addition, generous, often humorous, liner notes offer interesting historical anecdotes for each cut.

The collection illuminates 25 years of award-winning eclectic American roots music. As the liner notes say the box set "is incomplete to be sure," but it does contain a totally satisfying mix of versatile musicians with a wide array of classic recordings and lesser-known gems. The project is a showcase for some of the industry's most respected names, including, but not limited to, Ricky Skaggs; Tony Rice; Hot Rize; The Country Gentlemen; Doc Watson; The Osborne Brothers; The Nashville Bluegrass Band; The Seldom Scene; The Lonesome River Band; Berline; Crary and Hickman; Lonesome Standard Time; Bryon Sutton; Laurel Canyon Ramblers; Jim Mills; The Whites; Don Rigsby; Aubrey Haynie; Doyle Lawson (the only artist with 3 tracks) and too many others to mention.

A very short list of spine-tingling selections consists of Tony Rice's dazzling "Church Street Blues"; Peter Rowan and the Nashville Bluegrass Band's poignant "Trail of Tears"; Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver's a capella gospel powerhouse "Lord I've Been a Hard Working Pilgrim"; Ricky Skaggs' "Could You Love Me One More Time"; Bryon Sutton with Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs on "Sally Goodin"; Doc Watson, Marty Stuart and Johnny Cash on "Hey Porter"; The Hot Rize classic "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning" and "When You Go Walking" from the Lonesome River Band.

This brief listing of artists and selections should have your mouth watering. Retrospective is a fabulous musical time capsule for the last quarter of a century and it deserves a place in your collection.

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