Listen Up: Wednesday, January 19, 2005
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Moody Bluegrass

A Nashville Tribute to the Moody Blues(Rounder Records)

By Tom Geddie

Bluegrass versions of rock, pop, and jazz songs aren’t even a dime-a-dozen anymore. While some of these tributes are solid — Larry Cordle’s 2004 Skynyrd Standard Time comes quickly to mind — others are built on the thinnest of premises. Moody Bluegrass is more the latter than the former.


More information: The Moody Blues broke onto the rock scene in the late 1960s, earning 18 mostly well-deserved platinum records through the 1970s and into the 1980s. Their work has been covered by everybody from metalhead singer-songwriter Glenn Hughes to death-goths Voodoo Shock. But some combinations were never meant to be: Despite a stellar effort here, psychedelia and moonshine just don’t mix.
On this tribute c.d., the all-star cast is musically and even vocally admirable. But while many of the young “newgrass” bands successfully blend traditional bluegrass with modern sensibilities (see South Austin Jug Band’s live shows), the sincere Moody Bluegrass is more overlay than fusion.
The failure is lyrical rather than musical. Too many of the songs — such as “I’m Just a Singer in a Rock ’n’ Roll Band,” “Legend of a Mind (Timothy Leary),” and “The Other Side of Life” — are too closely tied to a particular time and place to translate into this traditional form.
The love songs — including “It’s Up to You,” “Your Wildest Dreams,” even “Nights in White Satin” — work best in their simple directness.
Producer/Nashville session player David Harvey (who played on the hit “Murder on Music Row,” with Cordle on the Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute c.d., and other projects) got help on this c.d. from Cordle, Tim O’Brien, Alison Krauss, Harley Allen, Jon Randall, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Alison Brown, Aubrey Haynie, and more. A nice roster of talent — and too good to be used just to rehash “moody” music without adding to it.


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