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Front Range

Ramblin' On My Mind – 1997 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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The third album for Sugar Hill from this bluegrass band that established itself as a national-level act with their previous, all-gospel "One Beautiful Day" is dominated by a smooth, laid-back, yet confident approach that should be appreciated by those leaning toward the folk side of country and bluegrass.

Bob Amos, guitarist and lead singer, is a strong writer who contributes 6 out of the 12 cuts, including the instrumental "Willoughby Gap." There are three other new songs, including one by banjoist Ron Lynam and three covers illustrating different aspects of the band's western bluegrass heritage. Lynam sings the lead on the best, the old Bob Wills number "Home In San Antone," while the band demonstrates a grasp of how to play swing on bluegrass instruments; fans of Riders In The Sky will recognize the sound.

Virginia Stauffer's "With Body And Soul," immortalized by Bill Monroe, fares reasonably well, too; Robert Johnson's blues classic, the title track, less so - the original version and Eric Clapton¦s mid-'60's reading left an indelible impression. The remainder, though, especially Amos' strong opening and closing songs, more than makes up for the occasional lapse.Though neither sings lead, both mandolinist/tenor Mike Lantz and bassist/baritone Bob Dick make full contributions to the album and the band's distinctive sound.

For those taking the trouble to search it out, this will provide a lot of listening pleasure.