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Jim and Jesse McReynolds

Ya'll Come: The Essential Jim & Jesse – 1998 (Epic/Legacy)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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CDs by Jim and Jesse McReynolds

Virginia's Jim & Jesse McReynolds, among the very few bluegrass artists to carve out a substantial career while in Bill Monroe's shadow, enjoyed their finest commercial success while with Epic. Their 10-year association with Epic, documented here, comes on the heels of the brothers' 50th anniversary as professional musicians.

Diverse, thematic albums marked Jim & Jesse's Epic years, from which classic interpretations of The Louvin Brothers' "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby," Robert Mitchum's "Ballad Of Thunder Road," and country/bluegrass stalwart "Ya'll Come," emerge. An unlikely tribute album to Chuck Berry produced driving versions of "Memphis, Tennessee" and "Maybelline," the latter drastically re-tooled to the point that it sounds made for the brothers' rapidly paced, bluegrass sound.

Members of the Grand Ole Opry since 1964, Jim & Jesse's biggest hit, 1967's "Diesel On My Tail," and most of the 19 other selections continue as concert staples for the tireless duo.

Regrettably, there are no Jim & Jesse originals included, but then their arrangements of evergreens "Nine Pound Hammer," "Ole Slew Foot" and Bob Wills' "Stay A Little Longer," override such oversights. Indeed, one listen to the brothers' Sunday school harmony on gospel standbys "Kneel At The Cross" and "The River Of Jordan," or Jesse's rapid-fire mandolin picking on "Yonder Comes A Freight Train" will make even the most critical fan gape in awe.