There have been a lot of albums released in recent years with a “bluegrass style” tag on them, which usually means non-bluegrass music played with bluegrass instruments. Many are full of great music, but the bluegrass sound never really kicks in. However, the new album, Moody Bluegrass: Two…Much Love, the second project in a series that recreates the songs of the classic rock band the Moody Blues with a bluegrass twist, does make the effort to kick it up with three-finger drive.
The first Moody Bluegrass album was nominated for a Grammy, and rightly so as the all-star cast put together fun and lively versions of the Moody Blues soundtrack. Series producer David Harvey has assembled another all-star cast for this second effort, and while not all of the songs chosen lend themselves to a bluegrass arrangement, the ones that do are given the treatment. The cast of musicians includes John Cowan, Tim O’Brien, Sam Bush, Larry Cordle, Alison Brown, Andy Hall, Aubrey Haynie, Peter Rowan, Tim May, Barry Crabtree, Stuart Duncan and many more artists. Also along for the ride are five of the original members of the Moody Blues including John Lodge, Justin Hayward, Graeme Edge, Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas.
The highlights include Vince Gill singing “I Know You’re Out There,” which kicks into high bluegrass gear halfway through, Ricky Skaggs on a wonderfully upbeat version of “You And Me,” Cowan performing “Tuesday Afternoon” and Ronnie Bowman doing “The Story In Your Eyes.” My favorite cut is “Higher And Higher” with Edge providing some delightful spoken word, Duncan adding some Middle Eastern fiddle and Andy Todd thumping one of the most infectious bass lines in recent memory. And, in a special treat, Harley Allen added a new vocal performance, “Meanwhile,” before his untimely death. (www.moodybluegrass.com.) DH