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16 Biggest Hits: Ricky Skaggs

Ricky Skaggs

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Album Review

Does 16 Biggest Hits really contain Ricky Skaggs' 16 biggest hits as measured in the country singles charts? No, it doesn't. It contains his 13 biggest hits, plus three other songs that have special significance for the artist and his audience. Among his top 16 singles are "You Make Me Feel Like a Man," "Love's Gonna Get You Someday," and "Let It Be You," none of which are included here. In their place are "Don't Get Above Your Raising," Skaggs' first Epic single and first significant hit; "You May See Me Walkin'," his first Top Ten hit; and "Wheel Hoss," an album track from his Country Boy album written by his mentor, Bill Monroe. It's hard to argue with such substitutions, except to note that they rob the album's title of strict accuracy. The music contained here helped define the new traditionalist movement in country music in the '80s. Skaggs, a top instrumentalist steeped in bluegrass, found a formula at the start of that decade which combined a heavy emphasis on traditional playing with a fresh approach that didn't violate the old-time sound so much as extend it. Trends come and go, and after Skaggs' style passed from mass popularity he predictably returned to the traditional style from which he had emerged, but not before he had reinvigorated country music with the hits heard on this album, which stands as an excellent introduction to his most popular work.

Biography

Born: July 18, 1954 in Cordell, KY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

By the time he was in his mid-thirties, Kentuckian Ricky Skaggs had already produced a career's worth of music. At age seven he appeared on TV with Flatt & Scruggs; at 15 he was a member of legendary Ralph Stanley's bluegrass band (with fellow teenager Keith Whitley). None of his '80s peers, male or female, had better musical credentials than Skaggs. The term "multi-talented" lacks the power to characterize this extraordinary singer and instrumentalist. Not only can he sing and pick with the...
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