Roland White – I Wasn’t Born to Rock ‘n’ Roll (Tompkins Square, 2010 Reissue)
By the time mandolinist and vocalist Roland White cut this album in 1976, he was a well-seasoned bluegrass performer. His family band, the Country Boys had morphed into the Kentucky Colonels, released several albums and toured the U.S. When the Colonels broke up in 1965, White’s brother Clarence became a sought-after session guitarist, a member of Nashville West and, in 1968, a member of the Byrds. During the same period Roland joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, and later, Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass. The brothers had a short-lived reunion in a reformed Kentucky Colonels, but when a drunk driver struck and killed Clarence, Roland was once again on his own. White joined Country Gazette in 1974, staying for 13 years and recording this album with their instrumental and vocal backing. The progressive elements the band brought to their group albums are left behind as these songs are drawn from classics by Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmie Davis, and Bill Monroe, highlighted by the seven-minute, six-song medley, “Marathon.” White proves himself a compelling vocalist, adding bluesy slides to his solo phrases and fitting tightly into the backing harmonies. The set’s lone original is the White brothers’ “Powder Creek,” joining two other instrumentals on the original album. This first-ever CD reissue, with one bonus track (“She is Her Own Special Baby”), is remastered from the original tapes, and sparkles with the energy the players brought from the stage into the studio.