Oh dear. There were some unfortunate fashions in the 1980s. Maybe it’s because I was there at the time, but when I see a picture like this, I shrink inside.
This is Ricky Skaggs, one of the greats of country music, on the back of his 1985 LP, Live in London. That’s Westminster Bridge in the background there, and Ricky looks as though he feels like the dang handsomest fella to ever pull on a pair of snakeskin books, y’all. I would have felt the same, dressed like that, only I couldn’t afford the boots and I would have drawn a line at the mustache. Oh dear.
But here on Planet Vinyl, we don’t get phased by fashion, or deterred by dud record covers. We just listen. And when it comes to live albums, we go further. I love live recordings, don’t get me wrong. But a live album should be long on music and short on stage patter, because what can be fun and part of the show when you are there, can be embarrassing committed to vinyl. This is certainly true of Ricky. Maybe it is being an American abroad, or something, but to call Skaggs’ patter cheesy would be an insult to cheese. Exhibit A.
But, it’s about the music here. Can the boy play? Yessir, he can. Skaggs and his band are hot, drawing on bluegrass and country and fusing it with rock and making it all something new. Personally, I rate his playing, on guitar and mandolin especially, more highly than his singing, but that is a matter of taste.
Ricky Skaggs has been described as the man who single-handedly rescued country music in the 1980s. That may be overstating things, but his willingness to hoot and holler and wear cowboy boots but merge styles and collaborate with unlikely partners – it did re-energise country and bring it to a new audience. He even shared the stage with … spoilers! You’ll have to listen to find out which unlikely figure joined him for the encore number at the Dominion Theatre, London, in 1985.
- Artist: Ricky Skaggs
- LP Title: Live in London
- Side 2, Track 5 “Don’t Get Above Your Raising”
- Format: 12”, 33⅓ rpm, stereo
- Label: Epic
- Catalogue number: ELPS 4525
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: 1985
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