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Special Consensus

25th Anniversary – 2000 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Jonathan Colcord

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There's no need to beware if you're a fan a good bluegrass music. Aside from the retrospective nature of this release, it is also the band's new album. Twelve of the 20 songs are newly recorded by the present band, while the other 8 take a look back at the band's career and past band member contributions.

Absent is the band's more recent history with the newest of the old dating to 1993. Today's band is perhaps the finest yet with founder Greg Cahill on banjo, Josh Williams on mandolin, Chris Walz on guitar, Tim Dishman on bass and guest Jeff Guernsey on fiddle. Earlier incarnations were good, but do not hold up well to the band's current world-class sound. Exceptions skirt the periphery of the traditional/contemporary bluegrass the band now plays. "Freight Train Boogie," from 1986 features a swing style and some nice fiddle, while "Stealin' Away" features a progressive sound similar to early New Grass Revival.

Highlights among the new tracks are "Cottonfields," "A Long Time Gone" and "Walk These Blues Off My Mind." If nothing else, this album is a great testament to how this band - a roster of 31 past members - has grown.