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Randy Scruggs - Crown Of Jewels
Review By Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

This disc from 1998 is the most underrated CD in country music. Never have I seen so much talent together on one album. Almost every Nashville artist had something to do with this, plus it goes out of genre to bluegrass pickin', Nashville country, jam band music. Crown Of Jewels is just incredibly good music by Randy Scruggs, son of legendary banjo picker Earl Scruggs. Scruggs himself is an A call acoustic studio guitar player and winner of many awards. I saw him once in the 70's pickin' with his Dad's, Earl Scruggs Revue. This CD must have taken forever to to do, because of the arrangements, songs written with guest artists. Randy produced it, though he said that it was more like directing a movie, doing logistics, getting folk in and out. I think it very appropriate that "Golden Ears" Denny Purcell, mastered it. He has gone on now, but Purcell was the best and most respected mastering engineer in Nashville for a long tenure. Never heard a bad sounding record by Denny.

Alright, I'm going to attempt to do two lists, first the A list of guests and then the great list of musicians. There's Vince Gill, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, John Prine, Emmy Lou Harris, Iris Dement, Joan Osborn, Rosanne Cash, Johnny Cash (wrote song with Randy for disc) and Bruce Hornsby.

Okay, lets check out some musicians (don't forget Scruggs plays tons of electric and acoustic guitar himself). Fiddle/Stuart Duncan, Acoustic guitar/Biff Watson, Bass/Dave Pomeroy, drums/Harry Stinson, Electric guitar/Reggie Young, Steel guitar/ Dan Dugmore, Keyboards/ Reese Wynans, slide guitar/Lee Roy Parnell, drums/Owen Hale , mandolin/Marty Stuart and Sam Bush, dobro/Jerry Douglas, piano/Chuck Leavell, Bass/Glenn Worf and banjo/Earl Scruggs. That's the majority, several left out for sanities sake.

Crown Of Jewels is a combination of great cover songs and new originals written by Scruggs and guests. This album has a family feeling and also a live feel, like the way it's recorded.

The opener "A Soldier's Joy", featuring Scruggs on acoustic guitar and Gill on electric guitar is an incredible hybrid bluegrass kicker. There is sort of an Irish overture, before they take off on this mind blowing piece of guitar picking.

"It's Only Love" (Scruggs, Carpenter) is a beauty of a true country song, great lyrics, acoustic pickin', fiddle, really nice melody. Carpenter never sounded better.

"Amie" (Fuller) vocals by Travis Tritt, incredible rendition of a classic country rocker. Real nice steel. Great harmonies. Real nice solo by Scruggs. They really sound like thy are having fun on this song. Ends on a beautiful acoustic chord.

"My Secret Life" (Scruggs, R Cash) This hot, country ballad shows the guitar playing genius of Scruggs, what sweet tones he gets out of an instrument. Rosanne Cash sounds really inspired on this track. She looks beautiful in her pic with Randy. Incredible electric guitar part by George Marinelli. Randy jams it out at the end.

"Travel On" (Scruggs) Move over Allman Brothers, this is a very melodic jam band song with Randy playing harmony electric guitar with himself, Lee Roy Parnell on slide (sounding like Duane Allman) Bruce Hornsby on Piano. This booklet is full of great pics. Randy proves here that he is just as good on electric guitar.

Randy ends this masterpiece with a finger picked version of "Both Sides Now", which is beautiful and shows yet another side of this expert guitarist.


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