Clinch Mountain Echo

Ernie Thacker & Route 23 - Backbone Job

(Crosscut CR-1117) 2000

Backbone Job
Booklet CD Tray

Average Album Rating: 3
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After the Ernie Thacker / Junior Blankenship Band had run it's course, Ernie took a factory job and moved his family back to Ohio. After about a year, Tim Austin of Lonesome River Band / Doobie Shea called to ask him to sing on a couple of songs for the The Stanley Tradition: Tribute To A Bluegrass Legacy CD.[1] The sessions led to Ernie deciding to try the music business once again:- "I had spent quite a bit of time improving my playing on guitar. I was trying to get to a sound I was comfortable with, more along the lines of Lonesome River Band with a driving style. After singing in Roanoke, I knew music was where I wanted to be."

Around about the same time, in May 1996, Ernie also took part in the Ralph's 50th anniversary celebrations (captured on the Clinch Mountain Boys Reunion 2xCD / DVD set).

After relocating back to Virginia, Ernie and brother Matt put together Route 23, and 'Backbone Job' was their debut release in 2000.

Stylistically the CD cements the shift to the more contemporary bluegrass sound, with Matt Thacker's throbbing electric bass lines, Matt Stacey's mandolin and Mike Mullins' banjo and all having that modern 'playing-all-around-it' approach. 'Fiddle-ace for hire' Rickie Simpkins likewise sprinkles some magic over proceedings too.

Overall 'Backbone Job' is a fairly good album, but some songs like Miami, My Amy are fairly cringe-worthy (even if Keith Whitley also cut it) and Whitley's Backbone Job get's a tad tiresome after repeated plays. That said, there's plenty to like on the album, which compares well to Ernie's later work. The band augment each other well, and Ernie's vocals are superbly expressive and well crafted to suit the material.

Ernie's sister D.D. also provides backing vocal on Whiskey And Women, which Ernie later re-recorded for his Chill Of Lonesome CD and also wrote Too Late For Lovin'.

Aside from the Keith Whitley related cuts, two of the other tracks have tangential 'Stanley' connections. Hank Williams' Six More Miles was also recorded by Ralph; and likewise Worries And Troubles (aka Your Worries And Troubles Are Mine) - though the original was by The Lost Kentuckians, and Ernie had also helped Johnnie Collins cut a version on his 1992 cassette Your Worries And Troubles Are Mine.

Wild Horses

Jerry Williamson
Miami, My Amy

Dean Dillon / Hank Cochran / Royce Porter

Lowel Apling
Too Late For Lovin'

D.D. Thacker
Whiskey And Women

Junior Sisk
Backbone Job

Keith Whitley / Kix Brooks

Herschel L. Sizemore
Six More Miles

Hank Williams
Lonely And Blue

Shannon Slaughter
Worries And Troubles (aka Your Worries And Troubles Are Mine)

Candace K. Randolph / R. Stanley
Where There's A Will, There's A Way


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