A lot of people have been taking notice of the superb talent Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers have to offer. In September, they were named the 2012 IBMA Emerging Artists of the Year. They followed this latest achievement with the release of their newest album, They’re Playing My Song, on Rebel Records. With this new collection of music, the band has established itself even further as one of today’s finest traditional bluegrass music groups.
With several new originals and a nice selection of covers pulled from the bluegrass and classic country traditions, They’re Playing My Song is an all-around enjoyable listening experience. The band kicks things off with an original tune from Mullins. A Blue Million Tears is a catchy and well-written song which features nice wordplay with the term “blue million.” Another original, Granddad (the Preacher) was written by guitarist Adam McIntosh and is a moving tribute to a man who loved the Lord with everything he had. Mandolin player Mike Terry also contributes one song to the album, a cheerful love song entitled Our Old Kentucky Home.
The album also includes another love song, the sweet waltz, Lily. The tune shares the story about a couple who overcame a tough first year of marriage to eventually celebrate over fifty years together. A few other songs share the opposite side of love, including the Dave Evans tale of lost love, When the Snow Falls on My Foggy Mountain Home, and She Left Me Standing on the Mountain, which listeners may recall from the Jim and Jesse version.
One of the album’s standout tracks is the Osborne Brothers Medley, in which the band samples from several hit songs – Windy City, Making Plans, Fair and Tender Ladies, and Kentucky. The Ramblers moves seamlessly between tunes, with Mullins channeling both Bobby and Sonny Obsorne with his high lead vocals and banjo playing. Another excellent song is the title track, Listen, They’re Playing My Song, a Waylon Jennings cut from 1967 which is quite a sorrowful number.
Two instrumentals are included on the album. The first, Leon McAuliffe’s Steel Guitar Rag, is a nice uptempo tune with a strong bass line and enjoyable western swing fiddle. The mandolin tune, Cruisin’ Timber, is another fine addition, and allows each member of the band to show off their skills. Overall, the instrumentation on this album is great, with Mullins’s solid banjo work complemented by each of his band members (McIntosh on guitar, Terry on mandolin, Tim Kidd on bass, and Evan McGregor on fiddle).
They’re Playing My Song is already seeing great chart action, with lead single Bottom of the Mountain (a banjo-driven coal mining song) hitting number one on the Bluegrass Today charts, and the album debuting at number 8 on Billboard’s bluegrass chart. With one foot firmly rooted in the past, these emerging artists are definitely a band to keep an eye on.
For more information on Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, visit their website at www.radioramblers.com.
The new album can be purchased from their website, as well as various digital music stores.
About the Author (Author Profile)
John Goad is a graduate of the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program, and is now pursuing a Masters degree in Appalachian Studies at ETSU.
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