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Chris Hillman

Chris Hillman – 1999 (Rounder)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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CDs by Chris Hillman

Tony Rice, Larry Rice, Chris Hillman and Herb Pederson pick up right where last year's "Out Of The Woodwork" left off: lots of great songs and lots of great singing and picking. Between them, they have made immense contributions to the worlds of bluegrass, country and country-rock. Their resumes include the Desert Rose Band, J.D. Crowe's New South, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Hillmen, The Rice Brothers and The Dillards.

Of the 13 tracks, 7 are originals - 5 by Hillman and 2 by Larry Rice. In addition the band deftly covers the Grateful Dead's "Friend Of The Devil," Delaney & Bonnie's "Never Ending Song Of Love" and the more bluegrassy, "I'll Be On That Good Road Someday" and "Moonshine."

Hillman, Pederson and Larry Rice take turns on lead vocals. Instrumentally, Tony Rice shines on lead and rhythm guitars, Larry Rice and Hillman contribute on the mandolin and Pederson on the banjo. They are backed by Fred Travers on dobro, Rickie Simpkins on fiddle and Ronnie Simpkins on bass.

The album's only weak spots are "Out Among The Stars," and "Hearts Overflowing," slower tunes anchored by the lead voice of Pedersen. Though a fine harmonizer, he's not as commanding a lead singer as is Hillman or Larry Rice. Sadly, voice problems continue to prevent Tony Rice from singing, but he makes his presence more than felt with terrific guitar work.

From start to finish, this CD doesn't disappoint. Though they plow little new ground, R, R, H & P still make outstanding music.