Monday, March 13, 2017

CMH Records Picks On Toto, Huey Lewis, Whitney with Bluegrass Versions of '80s Hits

CMH Records (Country Music Heritage) has released several albums in its Pickin' On series which features bluegrass interpretations of popular artists. Back in 2008, Pickin' and Singin' the Biggest Hits of the 1980s covered some of the most beloved artists from the decade including Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Tears For Fears, and many more. Now, CMH just formally announced a 12-track Volume 2 collection from producer Brad Davis.


Pickin' On the Biggest Hits of the 1980s Vol. 2 features spirited renditions of tracks by Toto, George Michael, Huey Lewis and the News, Billy Idol, and more. I've had the opportunity to listen to the entire album and as someone who is not really a fan of country music, I was impressed how flawlessly most of the songs transitioned to bluegrass. Some tracks are obviously easier than others like George Michael's "Faith" which is mainly acoustic, but others like Katrina and the Waves "Walking on Sunshine" took some real country creativity.

I've heard '80s hits transplanted into different genres like heavy metal, lullabies, and even jazz. I keep an open mind about cover tracks because they can be really good if the correct songs are chosen. I think this bluegrass album made some really good choices and is a pretty fun listen. Check out the complete album list for Vol. 2:

  1. Africa (Toto)
  2. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) (Whitney Houston)
  3. Walking On Sunshine (Katrina & The Waves)
  4. Faith (George Michael)
  5. Our House (Madness)
  6. The Power Of Love (Huey Lewis & The News)
  7. Dancing With Myself (Billy Idol)
  8. Walk Like An Egyptian (The Bangles)
  9. Simply Irresistible (Robert Palmer)
  10. Danger Zone (Kenny Loggins)
  11. I Want To Know What Love Is (Foreigner)
  12. Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)

Pickin' On the Biggest Hits of the 1980s Vol. 2 is now available on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon. Don't forget to check out Volume 1 as well on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon. Prime members can stream Volume 1 for free now as a part of Amazon Prime Music. Leave a comment with your thoughts on the albums and '80s cover albums in general.

About CMH Records' Pickin' On Series:
Born out of a love of rock music and for the virtuosity of bluegrass musicians, the Pickin' On Series features the best in bluegrass paying tribute to the biggest and brightest artists in rock and pop. Though it started modestly in 1993 with the release of Pickin' On the Movies, tributes to The Beatles and Eagles soon followed and by 1997 the Pickin' On Series was on fire. The Pickin' On Series continues to thrive with one hand in traditional bluegrass and the other in popular music, ready for the next chance to create innovative bluegrass music.