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Arts and Culture News

Moody Bluegrass: Rocking Through the Hills

Detail of the album cover for <i>Moody Bluegrass</i>.
Detail of the album cover for <i>Moody Bluegrass</i>.
David Harvey
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David Harvey

31 of Nashville's top musicians have taken some of The Moody Blues' best-known songs from the 1970s and 1980s and translated them into bluegrass. Those involved and people who've heard the result say this is no gimmick.

On the album produced by mandolinist David Harvey, bluegrass stars from Harley Allen, Tim O'Brien, and Alison Krauss to Stuart Duncan and Aubrey Haynie are called on to interpret "Your Wildest Dreams," "I'm Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band," and "Nights in White Satin," among others.

The project is miles away from the standard tribute. The Moody Blues, who got their start in Birmingham, England, turned out some of the first concept albums and were innovators in studio production techniques. Their sound has been described as "symphonic rock" because they supplemented electric guitars with string arrangements, synthesizers, and lush vocals with lots of reverb and overdubbing.

Much of that fell by the wayside for the Moody Bluegrass album -- as a wealth of singers and instrumentalists converted the material into the bluegrass vernacular. The symphonic sound is now based on mandolins, fiddle, dobro, guitar, string bass, and banjo -- with some of Nashville's best voices chiming in with close vocal harmonies.

Fans of the project, such as music journalist Jon Weisberger of No Depression Magazine, say Moody Bluegrass shows a genuine respect for the material and that the result is powerful and fun. Hear NPR's Steve Munro.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.