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Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder

Ancient Tomes – 1999 (Skaggs Family)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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CDs by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder pick up where they left off with the Grammy nominated "Bluegrass Rules!"All of the elements bluegrass fans love are here: powerful pickin', great vocals and harmonies and covers of classics from the masters. Clearly, Skaggs is on a roll.

There's not a bad cut on this album. Skaggs and company give wonderful treatments of Bill Monroe's "Walls of Time," "It's Mighty Dark To Travel" and "I Believe In You Darlin'," the Stanley Brothers' "How Mountain Girls Can Love," "Lonesome Night" and "Pig In A Pen." Instrumentals include Monroe's "Boston Boy" and his own, "Connemara." It finishes with a beautiful, mountain-style rendition of "Little Bessie." Skaggs' band ranks among the finest anywhere. Paul Brewster's tenors are top-notch. Fiddler Bobby Hicks is a Monroe alumnus and never overplays his part. Hicks, guitarist Bryan Sutton, banjoman Jim Mills and Skaggs on mandolin and guitar provide the fire that keeps these old tunes sounding fresh.

Though he breaks no new ground here, this is a very impressive album. Skaggs is playing bluegrass fulltime these days, recording the music he loves and paying homage to his musical roots. Fans should be delighted because Skaggs is the ideal person to keep the bluegrass torch burning brightly well into the next century.