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Larry Sparks

40 – 2005 (Rebel)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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CDs by Larry Sparks

Larry Sparks is one of the greatest artists in bluegrass today. During his 40 years in the business, dating back to his days with Ralph and Carter Stanley, Sparks has carved out a unique vocal and instrumental style. Though he's maintained a lower profile than peers like Del McCoury or J.D. Crowe, he is no less talented. This album more than bears that out.

This could easily be titled, "Larry Sparks and Friends." He is joined on different cuts by artists like Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski, Vince Gill, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, Andy Griggs, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Rhonda Vincent. Remakes of Sparks' classics include "John Deere Tractor," "New Highway," "Tennessee 1949" and "Carter's Blues." The latter a guitar salute with Sparks, Gill, Kenny Smith, Jim Hurst and Tim Stafford, with Ricky Skaggs on mandolin. There are also wonderful renditions of old time country songs like "1-800-Do-U-Care" and "Blues Stay Away From Me." Gospel tunes are a staple of Sparks' repertoire, and he delivers some fine ones here, including "I Need Jesus" with the Marshall Family and "I Want You To Meet My Friend" with Tom T. Hall.

Despite big-name co-stars, the music here is vintage Larry Sparks. Old fans won't be disappointed. After 40 years in the business, Larry Sparks has finally arrived.