Pasatiempo started its long-awaited CD review section today. David Prince, Michael Koster and Craig Smith all have reviews in it. Here's my contribution:
The Bluegrass Sessions
This record earned country songbird Lynn Anderson her first Grammy nomination in nearly 35 years -- back when she was on top of the country charts with her signature tune, Joe South’s “Rose Garden.”
Notice I said “earned.” This album -- which features lively fiddle-and-banjo renditions of Taos resident Anderson’s best known songs plus some other surprises -- is a hoot from start to finish.
Anderson is hardly a stranger to bluegrass. Back in 1969 she was one of the first to record Felice & Boudleaux Bryant’s “Rocky Top,” which since has become a bluegrass standard.
Those who are put off my all that heavy early ‘70s “countrypolitan” pop production that marked Anderson’s best-known material should appreciate the understated, rootsy sound of The Bluegrass Sessions. Anderson hits like “How Can I Unlove You,” the soulful “Cry,“ and, yes, even “Rose Garden,” sound fresh and vital. And if anything, Anderson’s voice has improved with age.
The best cuts here are Anderson’s high-energy version of John Prine’s strip-mining lament “Paradise,” and a sweet country weeper called “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
That’s an Anderson original, not the old Four Seasons classic. She did however include a quasi-bluegrass/quasi-calypso cover of “Under the Boardwalk.” I didn’t really like this track until the very last refrain when Anderson sings “On a blanket with my baby,” then snorts a dirty little laugh as if she’s letting us in on some secret. That boosted the sex appeal in this song by about a thousand percent.
I don't care what Anderson's legal problems are -- and there have been quite a few well-publicized ones lately -- this is one dynamite album.
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