Clinch Mountain Echo

James Alan Shelton - Blue In The Blue Ridge

(Heartland HR-515) 1992 / Reissued on CD (Freeland Recording Co. FRC-CD-645) 1996

James Alan Shelton - Blue In The Blue Ridge
CD Cover CD Tray

Average Album Rating: 4.5
(Total votes 2)

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James' second 'solo' cassette release is a minor gem of a recording, featuring Ernie Thacker on lead vocal (then Ralph's current lead vocalist), plus stellar backing from Alison Krauss, Alison Brown, Adam Steffey and Barry Bales.

Fortunately, the cassette was reissued on CD in 1996 by Dick Freeland, albeit with the track order re-jigged. Both variations of the album alternate instrumental / vocal cuts, and there is plenty of excellent playing to be found, with Alison Krauss adding some sublime fiddle and Alison Brown's banjo work being tastefully adept. Ernie Thacker's vocals blend nicely with Alison Krauss on the catchy original Blue In The Blue Ridge, Somebody Loves You Darlin', and Birmingham Turnaround from Keith Whitley's repertoire.

Other cuts include the Stanley's I'll Just Go Away, Monroe's Brown County Breakdown and Larry Spark's These Old Blues.

The title cut I guess may come from the repertoire of James' earlier band, 'Blue Ridge', and the "Freeman / Dearstone" in the song writers credits may be former bandmates Tommy Freeman / Bill Dearstone. (But then the BMI song credits just list James' as the composer).

In addition to the more rgular bluegrass, there's also Norman Blake's Down At Mylow's House, a showcase for James' excellent guitar finger-picking skills, and a delightful delicate instrumental version of The Carpenters' Top Of The World with guitar and mandolin.

The cassette was reviewed in the July 1992 issue of 'Bluegrass Unlimited' and later in Autumn of that year, James filled in on a west coast tour with Ralph, when Jr. Blankenship took a few weeks off to go hunting.

PS: If anyone has better images of the cassette cover for this one, please get in touch via the Contact page - thanks!

Side One:
Blue In The Blue Ridge

Hall / James Alan Shelton / Freeman / Dearstone
Billy In The Lowground

Somebody Loves You Darlin'

Wiley Morris / Zeke Morris
Down At Mylow's House

Norman L. Blake
These Old Blues

Larry Sparks
Top Of The World

John Carpenter / John Bettis
Side Two:
Birmingham Turnaround

Warren Robb / Sanger D. Shafer
Brown County Breakdown

Bill Monroe
No Letter In The Mail

Bill Carlisle Jr. / Bobby Gregory
Bill Cheatum

I'll Just Go Away

C. Stanley


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