Black Music Matters Festival

The McLains

More Fun Than We Ought To Have – 1999 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

CDs by The McLains

"Bluegrass equals fine picking" is one of the few truisms in the recording industry, and The McClains are having fun with their picking. "Star of Munster" and "Gracie" are features never seen these days in other regions of country music: fast moving instrumentals. Following bluegrass tradition, there's also a gospel number - obligatory but still good listening.

If you have an ear for music, not just sound, you'll get a kick from this CD with their tight harmonies. The background instrumentation is pure pleasure. The songs keep the lyrical feel of simple patterns with a message. "Lips That Lie" (which has a great country feel) and "Through the Garden" are songs that keep you listening instead of shoving the music into the background of your mind, and "Foggy Mountain Top" is a well done version of a standard.

But few albums are perfect. "My Baby Thinks He's A Train" doesn't translate well from the country scene and "The Winner's Circle" is jarringly strange here. But, those are minor bumps on a smooth highway of great bluegrass.