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Ricky Skaggs: Country Hits Bluegrass Style

Skaggs Family Records

There was a time in the mid-1980s when country music was really cool. Even Kentucky bluegrasser Ricky Skaggs had broken into the radio charts with a slew of great tunes, cementing his place in the echelon. When he dropped out of the mainstream to focus his sights on the preservation of his mentor, the late Bill Monroe's purist bluegrass legacy, Skaggs never looked back. On this pleasant collection of remakes, he finally reflects on his own legacy and updates his biggest hits with a more pronounced traditional flair. But Skaggs crosses a few lines that Mr. Monroe might not have approved. Drums? In bluegrass? And is that a pedal steel I hear? So much for "authenticity," huh? Transgressions aside, Skaggs and his amazingly talented band have added a nice dimension to well-known tunes like "Highway 40 Blues" and "Crying My Heart Out Over You." These songs were born in bluegrass, and now they're back home. (4 out of 5 stars)