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CD Review: Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby



The Deal: Pianist /folksy songwriter Bruce Hornsby hooks up with mandolinist/bluegrass icon Ricky Skaggs

The Good: Although it's ostensibly a Hornsby/Skaggs collaboration, it's a Skaggs record. On "Gulf of Mexico Fishing Boat Blues," Hornsby's folky vocals take the focus off bluegrass momentarily, but with Skaggs' formidable presence and his top-notch band, you can't escape the grass. Hornsby fights back with humor on his original, "Dreaded Spoon," a tale about going to the Dairy Queen with daddy, who won't order anything for himself. When he pulls the dreaded spoon out of the car's glove compartment to sample yours, "just one swipe and it's goodbye." Hornsby's "Night on the Town," with its Springsteen-like lyrics and Billy Joel presentation is the most non-bluegrass cut on the release. Most of the other cuts are Skaggs' arrangements that showcase his and his band's blistering fretwork. But the best thing by far is Rick James' "Super Freak" set to bluegrass. They do it straight up, which makes it even funnier: high and lonesome meets freak chic.

The Bad: It's a strange mix of personalities and genres that doesn't quite mesh. Hornsby's voice is plain, perfect for the unassuming singer/songwriter thing he does. Alongside the vocal instrument Skaggs wields, it sounds pretty rough. Skaggs fans will be skipping around to get more samples of his Kentucky Thunder on the Hornsby-dominated cuts, and Hornsby fans will probably want to tune out the bluegrass interruptions on his.

The Verdict: Buy it for "Super Freak." Decades from now, this thing is still gonna bust you up every time you put it on.

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