Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
History of the Future
First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2002, Volume 9, #12
Written by John Metzger
It’s high time that Ricky Skaggs is forgiven his misguided, albeit successful, early ’80s foray into mainstream country. Let’s face it — the guy has had an enviable career, having performed alongside such legendary artists as Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, J.D. Crowe & the New South, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton. Not to mention, he’s certainly one of the finest mandolin pickers on the scene today.
Indeed, bluegrass music has always pulsed through Skaggs’ veins. It was where his career began, and it was to the more traditional aspects of the genre that he returned with renewed vigor when Nashville turned its eyes and ears towards fluffy, feel-good, country-imposters like Garth Brooks and Clint Black. Skaggs, however, just might get the last laugh. With the recent resurgence of classic bluegrass, country, and gospel music, he stands poised to come back into style in a huge way. True, there are more hardcore bluegrass bands out there — after all, Skaggs has retained some of the slicker sounds from his country heyday — but that’s also what makes his albums all the more appealing to those living outside Appalachia.
Skaggs’ latest outing History of the Future continues his hard-driving trek through the heart of bluegrass style with his inimitable band Kentucky Thunder. Throughout the disc, classics like the traditional Shady Grove, Bill Monroe’s Mother’s Only Sleeping and the Stanley Brothers’ The Old Home stand seamlessly alongside newer selections such as Keith Sewell’s Too Far Down to Fall and Skaggs’ own Celtic-flavored instrumental The Road to Spencer. Each track combines tightly-woven harmonies with impeccable instrumentation, all of which is delivered with the fiery ferocity of a much younger ensemble. As a result, Skaggs once again has successfully resurrected and revitalized the spirit of Bill Monroe in ways that many have attempted, but few have accomplished.
History of the Future is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box