Bela Fleck—Drive (Mobile Fidelity) [SACD]
In 1987, Fleck assembled some top bluegrass players to record his original compositions: Tony Rice on guitar, Sam Bush on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Mark Schatz on bass, and Stuart Duncan and Mark O'Connor on fiddle. They recorded Drive in just four days; the result infused traditional bluegrass with an in-the-moment fervor that makes it very difficult to sit still when you're listening to it. If your toe's not a-tapping, check your pulse.
Mobile Fidelity's new Ultradisc UHR SACD version of Drive finally provides sound quality to match the excellent musicianship. It's a stereo-only hybrid SACD, but the two-channel mix has a rich, full sound. The album contains a bonus track, a run-through of "Shuckin' the Corn" that was recorded the first day the musicians sat down together. When you hear how tight and cohesive they were from the get-go, you truly appreciate the talent that all of these men possess. It makes me wish I'd practiced my violin more as a kid.