If you want to know how Special Consensus has managed to stay in business for 40 years, all you have to do is pick up a copy of Long I Ride. Many bands in many genres offer up all kinds of commemoratives and anthologies upon reaching a milestone. That’s not always a good thing, but this is no remaking, re-mastering, repackaging operation. This album is fresh and new and stands to potentially make as many new fans as it does please those who have followed the group since its inception in 1975.
There isn’t room in a review to talk about each track on an album, but Long I Ride could certainly make a case for more room. The title track kicks the whole thing off with a G-run and banjo riff that is, at once, an attention-getter and comfort, a “Yeah, I’m going to like this a lot,” sort of thing. While many of the cuts should get plenty of airtime, this one has to be destined for top of the charts status. “Life Stories” follows with nostalgia and a nice reboot of the Larry Cordle classic, “Highway 40 Blues” with standouts Della Mae. Josh Graves’ “Fireball” is done up just right with help from Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley, and producer/banjoist Alison Brown—simply put, it smokes. Other guests include Mountain Faith’s Summer McMahan on “First One To Know” and the twin fiddles of Buddy Spicher and Matt Combs on “Baby I’m Blue.” Want a knockout a cappella gospel? “Jesus Is My Rock” is there for you, just before “Time For Movin’ On.”
It would have been easy for Special C to coast after the outstanding previous effort, Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver, but founder/banjoist Greg Cahill and the current iteration of Rick Faris (guitar/vocals), Nick Dumas (mandolin/vocals), Dan Eubanks (bass/vocals) kill on this CD. Don’t miss this album. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, www.compassrecords.com.)MKB