CD Review: With Body And Soul: A Bluegrass Tribute To Bill Monroe

“My Little Georgia Rose,” “Rocky Road Blues.” “White House Blues,” “A Good Woman’s Love,” “Big Mon,” “Blue Yodels #3,” “Kentucky Waltz,” “Road To Columbus,” “With Body And Soul,” “Uncle Pen,”“Tallahassee,” “Girl In The Blue Velvet Band,” “Close By,” “Brown County Breakdown,” “Muleskinner Blues,” “Blue Moon Of Kentucky,” “Footprints In The Snow.”

I am sure Bill Monroe would be pleased with this tribute celebrating his 100th birthday. Most all cuts here were excellent and done with respect and dignity. The original cuts by Bill Monroe of these tunes, in my opinion, were the best recordings ever done by anybody in my opinion. He did this without the benefit of hearing them done before by other musicians, or the use of modern recording equipment. Bill Monroe was a perfectionist the first time around.

“Good Woman’s Love”

  • “Road To Columbus” by Kenny Baker and Bill Monroe. I have heard this cut many times before and love it.
  • “With Body And Soul” by Peter Rowan. I must admit I had to listen close to realize that this was not Bill Monroe himself. I never realized Peter Rowan was able to sound so much like Bill when singing. I believe he did this out of respect, and was not trying to sound exactly like Monroe here.
  • “Muleskinner Blues” is acceptable, but does not exhibit anything close to the power or dignity of Bill Monroe, however it shows off Don Reno’s fantastic guitar playing style. Of course he was known as a banjo player which came along at the same time as Earl Scruggs and almost became the first three finger style banjo player Bill Monroe used. Don decided to serve his country instead of playing banjo for Bill.
  • “Close By” by Red Allen. I was at a show the night Red Allen died and the news was broken to Tony Rice. Tony was so upset he collapsed in remorse. Red was an amazing pioneer of bluegrass music–great version by Red Allen here of “Close By.”
  • Nice job by Ralph Stanley on “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” here.
  • After hearing Bill Monroe pour out all he had in this tune many times before. I expected more here, sorry Dan, I am of the opinion that this just did not make the cut as far as I am concerned. Much was lost in translation.
  • I think the best cut here might be “Kentucky Waltz” by Don Rigsby and had to replay this cut several times as I loved it so much. He was singing straight from his heart, not trying to sound at all like Bill Monroe which was exactly what I believe was the right approach.

All things considered, I am very pleased with this salute to Bill Monroe. It contains excellent musicianship and a lot of respect for the father of bluegrass music.

Rounder Records

Steve Brandt

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