november 2008

hadenCharlie Haden Family & Friends, RAMBLING BOY by Billy Altman
Rambling Boy is a truly remarkable return-to-roots collection which, as the title implies, finds the eminent bassist Charlie Haden surrounded by a dazzling array of singers and instrumentalists ranging from Rosanne Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Dan Tyminski, Jerry Douglas, Bruce Hornsby and Pat Matheny to Haden's own gifted family: his daughters, singing triplets Rachel, Petra and Tanya; his son Josh; and wife Ruth Cameron.

This clawhammer collection, encompassing 15 tracks released on albums between 1971 and 2001, and five previously unissued cuts of more recent vintage (1996-2001), finds a lively, unbridled Stanley tearing through a batch of mostly traditional numbers with various lineups of Clinch Mountain Boys getting their two cents' worth in as well. For those unfamiliar with the relentless drive of clawhammer picking, here's a crash course in it as taught by the master; for those well acquainted with the technique, prepare to be struck dumb by the virtuosity Stanley and his bandmates exhibit at every turn.

ralphRalph Stanley II, THIS ONE IS TWO
On the fifth album of his solo career, Ralph Stanley II makes his strongest case yet for stepping out of his legendary father's long shadow and being considered on his own merits. This One Is Two consolidates the strengths of the previous four solo efforts-strong songs, emotionally fired vocals, superior musicianship-and adds Stanley's own assured presence as his own man.

In 1999 Columbia/Legacy enhanced the legend of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison concert by releasing an expanded edition featuring an additional three tracks not included on the original pressing, as well as updated liner note reflections by Cash himself and Steve Earle. What really happened at Folsom Prison on January 13, 1968, however, has been long rumored but unheard by the general public, rarely even by Cash's most intimate friends. Welcome to the Legacy Edition of Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, which corrects the imperfect record of the events that occurred on a prison's stage occupied by Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Carl Perkins, the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers and the Tennessee Three and edited into a single, seamless and overpowering live album that catapulted Cash into the top tier of American artists of his time, a lofty perch he commanded to the end of his days.

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