JOE MULLINS & THE RADIO RAMBLERS
Billy Blue Records
The CD jacket indicates that after 13 years, Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers have released their eighth album. This is their first on Billy Blue Records and it’s a dandy, offering a variety of material from gospel to sincere songs that pull on your heartstrings.
The music comes from Mullins on banjo and vocals, Mike Terry on mandolin and vocals, Duane Sparks (who has since departed the band) on guitar and vocals, Randy Barnes playing bass and vocals, and Jason Barie on fiddle and guitar on one track. And we can’t forget track two with guest Del McCoury on guitar and his distinctive vocals on “The Guitar Song.” That song, written by Bill Anderson, Vickey McGehee, and Jamey Johnson is modified (with permission) to give the bluegrass version of a story about an old guitar played on The Opry in support of several bluegrass heroes. The results were recognized by the IBMA awarding the song as Collaborative Recording Of The Year in 2019.
The other songs on the project are equally as strong. “That Old Wheel” opens the collection with some upbeat drive and energy. “A Folded Flag” slows down the pace on track three, paying respect and remembrance to those military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice. There’s variety on “Here And Now,” with Mike, Duane, and Joe each sharing lead vocals on the verses. Joe’s link to the Boys From Indiana via his late father Paul “Moon” Mullins’ fiddling with that band is contained on Tom Holt’s “Things That I Like,” which will have your foot tapping.
Mullins has pulled out a wonderful Arthur Smith gospel song with “Acres Of Diamonds.” Former bluegrass boy Tom Ewing’s “O-hio” is included, which connects with Mullins’ home state as well. The band was also influenced by the 2019 IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award recipient Allen Mills to include “Dreamers Hill,” reminiscent of the songs and style of his band, The Lost & Found. “Bacon In My Beans” is getting some chart action and will make you smile at the contradiction in the lyrics regarding eating a healthy diet, but falling to the weakness of eating bacon. The album also includes the 1947 gospel song “I Want To Know More About My Lord” from Gospel Music Hall Of Fame member Lee Roy Abernathy.
This collection is very enjoyable and belongs in your collection. Mullins’ intent was to create an album “that can lighten your load and lift your spirits.” He succeeded. It’s additional justification to the band being 2019’s IBMA Entertainer Of The Year. (www.billybluerecords.com)BW