THE KARL SHIFLETT & BIG COUNTRY SHOW, “Take Me Back,” Pinecastle. 13 tracks.
Karl Shiflett formed his band in 1993, but it took six years and a contract with Rebel Records to boost them to national prominence.
They attracted a lot of attention in bluegrass circles with their “retro” look and sound back then.
Cynics will argue that most bluegrass bands are “retro,” that every traditional bluegrass band thinks we’re still in the ’50s.
But Shiflett & Big Country have kept the 1945 sound, working around a single microphone, and they still dress like 1945 with suits and ties.
But it’s been nine years now since the band last released an album — a long wait for fans.
“Take Me Back” isn’t a pure bluegrass album. It’s an ode to the 1960s when country and bluegrass were still basically one genre and radio stations would still play both on the same program.
Some of the material — “Mama Don’t Allow,” a blues song popularized by Robert “Washboard Sam” Brown in the 1930s, for instance — is much older than that. But it was popular on country stations in the 1960s by artists such as Hank Thompson.
Bob Wills’ “Take Me Back To Tulsa,” a swinggrass song here, dates to the 1940s. But it remains a popular staple with many bands today.
Other tunes include Don Gibson’s “Blue Blue Day,” Woody Guthrie’s “Sally Don’t You Grieve,” Willie Nelson’s “I Gotta Get Drunk,” Faron Young’s “Just Come To Get My Baby,” Ernest Tubb’s “Brand New Silent Partner” and Floyd Tillman’s “Makes No Difference Now.”
There are a couple of new songs on here too — Monroe Fields’ “Song on the Juke Box” and Shiflett’s “Open Up Your Heart (And Let Jesus In)” — but they sound as old as the others.
Shiflett keeps the bluegrass instrumentation on all tracks. So the album is a blend of bluegrass and classic country music.
Band members today include C.J. Lewandowski, Christopher Hill, Kris Shiflett and Billy Hurt Jr.
Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.PinecastleMusic.com.