FLATT AND SCRUGGS & THE STANLEY BROTHERS
SELECTED CUTS 1952-1959 (4CD BOX SET)
JSP (JSP77128 )
Alongside Bill Monroe who was the pioneer of the genre, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and Ralph and Carter Stanley were responsible for crafting, polishing and honing bluegrass music to a perfection that inspired thousands of musicians who continue the tradition to this day and this four CD set showcases both bands at their prime in the 1950s performing music that is still loved and revered fifty years on.
Flatt & Scruggs with The Foggy Mountain Boys were at the top of their game in the ‘50s, recording hit after hit and constantly touring with some of the finest musicians around. Over a ten year period their sound was supported by fiddlers Benny Martin and Chubby Wise, mandolin player Curley Seckler, Roy Huskey Jnr, Hylo Brown and Onie Wheeler booming out on the string bass and Josh Graves whose tremendous Dobro playing brought an extra ten tons of power to songs like Big Black Train. Good as the support was, the main attractions were Lester Flatt with his rock steady guitar and crystal-clear vocals and virtuoso banjo picker Earl Scruggs. Earl played using a revolutionary three finger picking style and simply dominated on frenzied instrumentals like Shuckin' The Corn and the terrifying Ground Speed!
Compiler Pat Harrison has selected some killer material ranging from the free-wheeling sounds of Foggy Mountain Special and Foggy Mountain Chimes to the heart breakers Crying Alone and Is There Room For Me? to the more rambunctious stuff like Don't This Road Look Rough And Rocky? and I'm Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open. All wonderful stuff!!
The Stanley Brothers material follows their days at Columbia and King where they produced great hits from their own song writing sessions Memories Of Mother, Daybreak In Dixie, Bill Monroe's catalogue Blue Moon Of Kentucky, You'd Better Get It Right, bluegrass favourites Orange Blossom Special, Maple On The Hill and little belters liberated from the traditional cannon Little Maggie, Man Of Constant Sorrow and Train 45.
Of course, only the best musicians wanted to get with the Stanley's and it's a thrill to hear fiddlers Joe Meadows, Chubby Wise, Art Stamper and Benny Martin alongside mandolin players like George Shuffler, Curley Lambert and Bill Napier, melding their styles with Ralph and Carter's clear and high vocal harmonies. Carter is the perfect foil for Ralph's legendary voice which just soars and roars out beautifully on these songs of tragic love, lonesome nights, mountain girls, wrecks on the highway and daybreak in Dixie as well as the half dozen well-crafted gospel numbers.
This box set a terrific collection of songs that really celebrates Flatt & Scruggs and The Stanley Brothers wonderful legacy. It's a fabulous collection of red blooded bluegrass if I ever heard one.
Review Date: March 2010