Over 30 years after their breakup, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs remain the most famous band to emerge from bluegrass. Brought together in Bill Monroe's band in 1945, they left three years later to form their own band - the Foggy Mountain Boys - and sign with Mercury Records. While their Mercury recordings (1948 - 1950) are held in higher esteem critically, Flatt & Scruggs' work for Columbia (1951 - 1968) was far more popular at country radio. Disc one contains their most pure bluegrass offerings, such as "Tis Sweet To Be Remembered," "Cabin In The Hills," and "Crying My Heart Out Over You." Lester's easy going, high tenor voice is the featured "instrument" on these recordings. Disc two finds Flatt & Scruggs at their commercial peak, led by their 1962 chart-topping theme for The Beverly Hillbillies. This smash led to several appearances on the show (including a performance of "Pearl, Pearl, Pearl," their top-ten ode about Jethro Bodine's mother) as well as the Petticoat...
Bought this CD a couple of weeks ago and have listened to it at least ten times - not only does this collection represent Earl and Lester's best music, but it has reminded me that Earl is - in my never to be humble opinion - still the best banjo player who ever lived; there are some guys out there that have "taken the banjo to another level", but there's something about Earl's playing that puts him in a league all by himself, way up at the top. I am also a sound engineer, and I'll tell you, the quality of these recordings amazes me - to think that a lot of them were done back in the early 50s; and with all of today's technology, these recordings - done some 50 years ago, are some of the best I've ever heard.
While Bill Monroe is rightly known as the father of bluegrass, the importance of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs cannot be overstated. Throughout the Sixties the duo put out a string of albums for Columbia and became cultural icons with their appearances on "The Beverly Hillbillies" and contributions to the "Bonnie and Clyde" soundtrack. While only slightly less significant than their classic Mercury sides, these 34 tracks from the Columbia vaults are essential bluegrass recordings from two pioneers of the genre, including classics like "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "I'll Never Shed Another Tear" to more pop oriented fare like the Lovin' Spoonful's "Nashville Cats." My only complaint is that this two-disc set clocks in at a mere 84:14--it could be almost twice that long. Why not include songs like "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy," or originals like "Dig a Hole in the Meadow," or their covers of Dylan material...
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