Ricky Skaggs With Kentucky Thunder
History of the Future
Review by Steven Stone
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CD Number: Skaggs Family Records 669890100322
From the opening accapella vocal lines of "Shady Grove", Ricky Skaggs' album,
History of the Future, roars out of your speakers with full-throttle devil be damned fire-breathing bluegrass. Clay Hess' first guitar solo is so
jaw-droppingly fast, clean, and musical that all any less skilled guitarist can do is smile, and shake their head. Ricky Skaggs is correct in calling his band Kentucky Thunder, the Blue Angels of Bluegrass. These guys make premiere fighter pilots look like slackers. Everyone is the band is that phenomenal. Fast, too. Andy Lefich on fiddle and mandolin, Bobby Hicks on fiddle, Paul Brewster on tenor vocals and rhythm guitar, Clay Hess on lead guitar, Mark Fain on bass, Jim Mills on banjo, and Darrin Vincent on baritone vocals and rhythm guitar make up the band. Stuart Duncan's fiddle and Jerry Douglas' dobro add solos to a few cuts, as if the core band doesn't have enough firepower.
Not only is the musicianship on History of the Future first-class, the song picking is equally inspired. Joe
Maphis' song "Dim Lights Thick Smoke and Loud Music", Carter Stanley's "The Old Home", Bill Monroe's "Mother's Only Sleeping", and the traditional bluegrass staple " Rollin in My Sweet Baby's Arm" join Skaggs originals " The Road to Spenser" and "One Way Track" to make a CD that covers all the bluegrass bases.
History of the Future is a much slicker sounding release than your average bluegrass CD. Actually, I think it is perhaps a tad too clean. Its digital perfection, similar to many modern Nashville releases, lacks the down-home natural warmth of the best acoustic releases such as
Tim O'Brien's Two Journeys.
Despite its presumptuous title and clinically clean sound, History of the Future lives up to its moniker. It's an instant "classic" bluegrass album that undoubtedly will be on everyone's short list for a
Grammy. (Editor's comment: as a voting member of the Grammy Awards i'll
make a note of it.)
Sound Quality: 90