Michael Murphy has returned with a second volume to his excellent and well received Buckaroo Bluegrass.This follow up album builds upon the spirit and sound of the first as it finds Murphy settled in and comfortable with the Blue Grass direction of his career.
His career has now passed the forty year mark. It began as part of a folk group, with future Monkee Michael Nesmith, and then moved on to the creative folk/rock band The Lewis and Clarke Expedition, which gave him his first taste of commercial success. His greatest popularity occurred during the mid-seventies to early eighties with such pop hits as “Carolina In The Pines,” “What’s Forever For,” and “Wildfire.” Since then he has settled into a successful country career which took a cowboy/western turn during the nineties and lately has found him exploring Blue Grass music. Buckaroo Blue Grass II: Riding Song finds him resurrecting some of his material from the early seventies and re-recording it within the Blue Grass tradition. The album is filled out with some personal favorites which also undergo a Blue Grass transformation.
His biggest hit “Wildfire” is removed from its soft rock origins and given a different instrumental foundation. A vocal duet with Carrie Hassler completes its transformation. His “Renegade” travels in a lighter direction and the use of a dobro gives it a different sound.
Also of note is the album's lead track “Blue Sky Riding Song,” which is a rollicking up-tempo masterpiece. Guitarist Pat Flynn, mandolin player Ronnie McCovey, fiddle player Andy Leftwich, bassist Craig Nelson, and banjo player Charlie Cushman all shine on their instruments both individually and collectively on this track and throughout the album.
His long time love of cowboy songs shines brightly as he takes the old Marty Robbins tune “Running Gun” and introduces it to a new generation of fans. Buckaroo Blue Grass II: Riding Song is not only another strong album release in the continuing career of Michael Murphy, but also helps to modernize Blue Grass music and make it accessible to a new group of fans. Hopefully there will be a number three in the series on the way in the near future.