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September 20, 2017


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Used To Be
Blues From The Pacific Delta For Bill Monroe (Undercover, Inc.)

By: Alex Steininger

Who's Bill Monroe? I don't know, but the catalog lists this explanation for the compilation: "This collection of almost all original tracks is dedicated to the memory, and influence of the father of," and then a blank space. I'm guessing this is a compilation dedicated to the father of bluegrass. One give away would be the eighteen tracks soaked in bluegrass. Sounds logical, doesn't it?

The first thing that really turned me on regarding this compilation was the idea that each and every band's sound was rooted in the same musical flower bed, so if bluegrass/old school country is all you listen to, you know you're going to have favorable opinions going in to each track, even if you don't like the particular artist. One band isn't one thing and the next the farthest thing from them, yet each band isn't exactly the same. They all differ enough to make each track sound new and refreshing, but they all are similar enough so that if you liked the previous song you know there is at least a chance the next one will be pretty good. It wasn't something where you really liked one song, but the next one was so far off in another genre you didn't even know how to react to it. And that really impressed me going into this compilation. I felt safe and secure about everything, so when I popped it in I had no biases against it. And after one listen I was already thoroughly impressed with everything. Usually it takes me a few listens to get into a compilation, yet this one was so honest and bare bones sounding that it really made me trust it. The definite stand out track on this compilation was Pete Krebs' "Shady Grove." His voice is so sincere sounding, and full of hope. Soft and touching, it reaches out to you and lets you know everything is ok. He also has a nice down to earth, country-loving tingle to his voice that adds even more credibility to his all acoustic number. As sweet as the night sky, listening to him takes you out to a porch in the country, as you see the moon glowing above while Pete plays his acoustic guitar just for you. The added hand claps in the music give you the feeling that you're part of the music, clapping along with the song while Pete plays on the moon lit porch. And with all these elements put together, you have a track that is gold right down to the core. But Pete was just one of the many great tracks on this compilation. Herman Jolly's solo acoustic number (listed on this CD under the name of his band, Sunset Valley) was also very indulging. Striped down to the point of just his acoustic guitar and his voice, you get to the root of his feelings with this number. Drenched in both pain and melody, this number also stands out on this album. Other great stand outs on this album include Miss Becky Kapell's "Jolene," Golden Delicious' "Little Sadie," Kevin Richey and his song, "Lamentations," as well as Richmond Fontaine's contribution of "Blackout."

Even though I don't know who Bill Monroe is exactly, I feel this compilation is quite an honor to his memory. The bands are creative and musically strong, which is always nice when you're trying to remember someone very influential. There a few numbers on here that I didn't exactly get into, but the majority of the songs are winners. I'll give this an A-.

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