Various Cool Blue Rocks: Rock & Roll in the Bluegrass Tradition

This novel collection of "rock" songs as played by a "who's who" of bluegrass session masters scores points for its bravado, if not for its ability to pull off the near impossible. The lethal combination of Jerry Douglas' dobro and Sonny Landreth's slide guitar reinvents Johnny Winter's "TV Mama" and, with John Cowan's impassioned vocals and John Gardner's military-style brush strokes, upgrades the original for the better. Likewise, two classic Little Feat songs are reborn with the high-energy help of Chesapeake ("Let It Roll") and the combination of Sam Bush and John Cowan ("Sailin' Shoes"). Hendrix's "3rd Stone From The Sun" is twisted into another space and time by Psychograss, while "Hey Joe" is lovingly rebuilt by the triple threat of Tim O'Brien, Artie McGlynn and Jerry Douglas on mandolin, guitar and dobro. And John Fogerty's "Bad Moon Rising" is injected with life by slick harmonies and frenetic-paced instrumentation of the Seldom Scene. Getting high and lonesome with Marley's "Is This Love" might be a bit of an artistic stretch (which isn't helped by Sam Bush's vocal) but is quickly remedied with the one-two punch of the Marley/Mayfield "One Love/People Get Ready." Who could have predicted that such liberal interpretations would not only work, but could "rock" in their own right? (Sugar Hill)