Bluegrass Unlimited - Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen - At Edward's BarnCHRIS HILLMAN AND HERB PEDERSEN
Rounder Records

Among the many charms of this instantly likeable live recording, the clincher for me is the chance to hear several classics and near classics recast from their rock and country-rock origins into an all-acoustic format, and directed that way by a player, Chris Hillman, who had a hand in the originals. Wisely, Hillman and Herb Pedersen have chosen songs from their nearly fifty year careers that translate well.

Obviously any tune that has country or folk at its roots should sound good stripped of its drums and electric excesses. “Turn, Turn, Turn,” a hit for The Byrds, certainly does. So does the Desert Rose Band hit “Love Reunited” and the country-rock Flying Burrito Brothers’ classics “Sin City” and “Wheels.” Those choices were not too difficult. The more pop-oriented Byrds’ tunes “Have You Seen Her Face” and “Eight Miles High,” however, could have posed a problem, but as it turns out, as much as the rock structure is apparent, there is enough of the folk quality about them to make their transformation extremely successful. All that said, the majority of this recording is not bluegrass, hence the “On The Edge” status. The lineup of Hillman on mandolin, Pedersen on guitar, Bill Bryson on bass, Larry Park on lead guitar, and David Mansfield on fiddle does manage a few bluegrass treatments, most notably, “Going Up Home,” “Desert Rose” (both of those with Pedersen on banjo), and “Wait A Minute,” the overall effect is more acoustic country, with the tempos mostly slow and medium.

Also included are Buck Owens’ “Together Again,” a jaunty cover of The Louvins’ “If I Could Only Win Your Love,” and two recent songs from Hillman, one of them a lovely Mexican-tinged love song, “Tu Cancion,” and the other an autobiographical rememberance of Hillman’s childhood horse, Ranger, titled “The Cowboy Way.” Those and a couple others round out an all-around excellent recording. (Concord Music Group, 100 N. Crescent Dr., Beverly Hills CA 90210, BW