The great Rose Maddox of Maddox Brothers and Rose fame.
When Rose Maddox recorded her famous 1962 bluegrass album (at the insistence of Bill Monroe, no less), it marked quite a departure from the rip-roarin' honky-tonk, country-boogie, and Western swing that was the trademark of her work with the Maddox Brothers band. The success of that record pushed Maddox in a more acoustic-oriented direction, and over time she built a style of "Bakersfield bluegrass" that embraced traditional values while adding the bite of electric instruments. By the time she made these recordings in 1980, she'd perfected that blend; her vocals retained the punch of her early days, but the wilder tendencies had been reined in. Supported here by the stellar but forgotten Vern Williams--one of the greatest high-tenor harmonizers in all of bluegrass--plus supple electric guitarist Kraig Hutchens, Maddox runs through bluegrass standards along with revamped chestnuts from her Maddox Brothers days. The final nine cuts stem from a rousing 1982 all-gospel session--three months after her son Donnie's death--that drops the electric guitar and features uplifting four-part harmonies. --Marc Greilsamer