Worley’s Friend Leads New Releases

This is a good week for traditionalists, as Darryl Worley keeps it country on his second album, and Randy Travis ’ hits are repackaged for a two-disc anthology. Also, the Drive-By Truckers see the reissue of Southern Rock Opera, inspired by the turbulent legend of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and some of the most talented musicians in Nashville’s bluegrass community unite as The Little Grasscals. Longtime duo, the Bellamy Brothers , reunite with a Nashville label.

Newcomer Worley has charted his first Top 10 hit with the title track of I Miss My Friend (DreamWorks), and the accompanying video captured a Flameworthy Award nomination earlier this year. Accomplished songwriter Darrell Scott (“It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” “Long Time Gone”) contributes the boisterous “Family Tree,” slated to be the next single. The tall Tennessee native’s past hits include “A Good Day to Run” and “Second Wind.” Worley will tour with Trace Adkins in the fall.

Credited with bringing a simpler approach back to country music in the mid-1980s, Travis delivered numerous radio hits for more than a decade. Rhino Records digs up many of those classics -– “Forever and Ever, Amen,” “Deeper Than the Holler” and “Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart” -– for Trail of Memories. The two-disc set features singles and album cuts from his albums on Warner Bros. and, later in his career, DreamWorks. The anthology also offers duets with Tammy Wynette , George Jones , B.B. King and Merle Haggard .

One of the most ambitious albums of 2001, the Drive By Truckers’ Southern Rock Opera may find a larger audience with its reissue on Lost Highway. Recorded in Birmingham, Ala., this gripping narrative of a fictional rock band draws on “the duality of the Southern thing,” a phrase that pops up throughout the two-disc set. It’s loosely based on Lynyrd Skynrd’s legacy –- both the tragedy and the loud, rip-roaring guitars. Innovative packaging, too.

Several songs on Bluegrass: The Little Grasscals (Naxos World) were recorded in the traditional bluegrass manner of playing live with three microphones, and musicians stepping in only on their solo turn. Contributors include notable members of Nashville’s bluegrass community such as Mike Compton, Shad Cobb, Jason Carter, Dave Talbot, Terry Eldredge, Jamie Johnson, Mike Armistead, Lester Armistead, Rob Ickes, Mike Bub, Terry Smith and Booie Beach. Familiar titles include “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies,” “John Henry,” “Darlin’ Corey” and “More Pretty Girls Than One.”

A popular bluegrass act on the Southeast club circuit, the Steep Canyon Rangers release Mr. Taylor’s New Home (Bonfire), incorporating traditional material with 10 original songs. The North Carolina quintet, with all its members in their 20s, has also appeared in numerous bluegrass festivals in Colorado, and won the Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival in 2001.

Self-confessed “old road dogs” the Bellamy Brothers have gone from their own self-titled record label to Nashville’s Curb Records. Their first Curb release is Redneck Girls Forever. The first release from the album is the single “Over the Line.”