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Various Artists

Legacy – 1997 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Various Artists

The past year has seen several special projects paying homage to the founding fathers of bluegrass. As strong as these have been, this may be the most significant yet.

Unlike the others, it is not a made-to-order tribute, but a collection of previously-released material that shows many of the top contemporary bluegrass artists using the creations of Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs and the Stanley Brothers as part of their regular repertoire.

From Vince Gill's thoroughly traditional reading of "Rose Of Old Kentucky" through the Lonesome River Band's almost rock-influenced "I'll Take The Blame" to Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver's "Our Last Goodbye," this collection demonstrates that the songs of the first generation aren't museum pieces to be dusted off with reverence, but rather timeless creations strong enough to provide a bedrock for virtually every modern artist's sound; contributors range from Doc Watson to Marty Stuart, the Laurel Canyon Ramblers to Ricky Skaggs. There is something here for everyone, yet all of it comes from the first few years of bluegrass, almost half a century ago. That these songs can sound as up-to-date as today speaks volumes about their creators and speaks well, too, of the men and women who have followed their path. Highly recommended.