The Special Consensus- 35 Review   Leave a comment


This review appeared in the recent issue of That High Lonesome Sound. It is a wonderful project celebrating the 35th anniversary of this band.

The Special Consensus    35    Compass Records www.specialc.com

When The Special Consensus visited Red Deer last spring, Greg Cahill brought news of his new relationship with Compass Records. The first product of this licensing agreement celebrates the 35th anniversary of this perennially entertaining bluegrass outfit.

Centered around Cahill’s considerable banjo skills, the material on this nicely packaged album is split evenly between recordings with the current lineup of the band- the one featured last March- and previously released selections from hard to find albums released in the 80s and 90s.

The new material and sound will be familiar to those who attended the concert earlier this year. Ryan Roberts, from Nova Scotia, sings lead on three of the tracks while David Thomas and Rick Faris each take a sole song. Robert’s talents as a writer and singer are obvious whether singing “That’s Tennessee” or “Working on a Railroad.” Thomas’s traditional-leaning voice is especially appealing tearing through his and Roberts’ composition “Used to These Old Blues.” “Land Up in the Air” is an a cappella gospel piece that is inspiring and enjoyable. The instrumental “Danny’s Dream,” like all the new songs, provides evidence of the strength of this current edition of The Special C.

The archival material provides a sampling of the sounds that the band has featured over the years. A phase that I wish I could hear more of features country singer Dallas Wayne on “Fourteen Carat Mind;” while his voice is most obviously ideally suited to his brand of honky tonk country, this track is a personal highlight of the disc. Chris Jones- who is bringing his own Night Drivers to Red Deer in late January- is featured on “I Cried Myself Awake,” from 1983.  “Silver Dew on the Bluegrass Tonight” swings while “Have I Loved You Too Late” is mournful.

While the stylistic approach may change over the years, The Special Consensus has consistently presented high-quality bluegrass recordings. 35 is no exception and should become a treasured part of many collections. Don’t forget, The Special Consensus, by popular demand, return to The Elks Hall March 26, 2011.

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