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The Essential Ricky Skaggs

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Album Review

Ricky Skaggs has done a little bit of everything during his long career, from traditional bluegrass to old-school country to newgrass, pop-country, and gospel, and yet somehow it has always seemed like a single thread, emerging as Skaggs' own sturdy brand of country roots music. He hasn’t so much changed with the times as the times have changed on him, and he’s taken that opportunity to pretty much do whatever he wants to do, exploring the different avenues of country music with a focus and vision that don’t require him to deliver radio hits one after the other, because he’s done that. Between 1981 and 1991, while he was signed to Epic Records, Skaggs placed 31 singles on the country charts, and 25 of those hit the Top 20, all of which made him a huge star. In many ways, he was a transitional figure between modern traditional country and bluegrass and the soon-to-emerge contemporary country brand. This two-disc, 32-track set collects the best of Skaggs' sides during those commercial glory years at Epic, and includes the hits "Crying My Heart Out Over You," "I Don't Care," "Heartbroke," "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could," and "Highway 40 Blues," among many others, all affording proof that country doesn’t need fancy videos, alternative guitar riffs, and studio gimmicks to be relevant in any century.


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 best...
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