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The Essential Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys
Bill Monroe
The Essential Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop
 
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #2

Given his reputation as a tight-assed traditionalist, it's not easy to think of the late bluegrass fountainhead Bill Monroe as a revolutionary, but that's exactly what he was. As Mark A. Humphrey's liner notes contend, "Bl...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Bill Monroe
Title: The Essential Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 10/20/1992
Release Date: 10/20/1992
Album Type: Box set
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop
Styles: Bluegrass, Classic Country, Traditional Folk
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 074645247823, 074645247847

Synopsis

Amazon.com essential recording
Given his reputation as a tight-assed traditionalist, it's not easy to think of the late bluegrass fountainhead Bill Monroe as a revolutionary, but that's exactly what he was. As Mark A. Humphrey's liner notes contend, "Bluegrass was teething at the same time as bebop and rhythm & blues." Indeed, the music created by Monroe and his crack sidemen reflected the same anxious innovation as, say, Charlie Parker's contemporaneous creations. Four of the six recording sessions chronicled in this box featured the classic BlueGrass Boys lineup, which fell apart in 1948 when Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and Cedric Rainwater left to form a splinter group that took bluegrass in a more commercial direction. --Steven Stolder

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CD Reviews

Love the music, got a gripe with Columbia...
Zhimbo | New York City | 08/31/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I can't fault the superb music or the documentation (a previous reviewer said there's none...he should return his, the set comes with a pretty good book of history, session notes, etc.). However, for some reason, Columbia decided that 16 of these songs should be represented not by the originally released takes, but by alternate takes. The master takes were released later on a separate release (16 Golden Hits or something like that). Grrrrr...
So we get the following absurdity in the notes: "...Monroe opens the throttle and launches into what would become the most influential performance in bluegrass history." This is describing "Blue Grass Breakdown", but the problem is that the performance in question, undoubtedly an extremely important recording, ISN'T INCLUDED IN THE SET, but rather an alternate take is substituted. Dunderheads. If this set was meant to be an introduction to Monroe, it should have been all master takes. If it was meant to be a collection for completists, it should've had an additional CD's worth of music included. On the plus side for Columbia, the sound is really quite excellent, considering these are 40's recordings. Many Columbia CD reissues, at least in their former Jazz reissue series, were marred by terrible remastering. This release sounds fabulous."
More info on Alternate takes
Zhimbo | 04/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The complaints about Columbia issuing alternate takes on this set are factually correct. I was sort of puzzled by this too. However in the liner notes to Columbia's "16 Gems" Bill Monroe album they explain the background of this set. Apparently the original concept was to release a 3-cd set with the original and alternate takes together, but there were concerns over the marketability of that idea. So the result was the issue of the 16 gems album, which contains the primary (released) takes of some of the biggest cuts (Bluegrass Breakdown, The Old Crossroads, etc.) and the release of this set, with the alternate takes of those songs. The two albums--"16 gems" and "the Essential Bill Monroe" complement each other. If you are looking for a Bill Monroe on Columbia box set, those two products combined are probably the next best thing to Bear Family's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" 1936-1949 set (which is both more extensive and more expensive).
As a side note, "Uncle Pen" was recorded during Monroe's Decca years only and thus would not be available to Columbia for reissue."
The Premier Blugrass Band
Frank S. Gutierrez | Bellmead, Texas USA | 04/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is what bluegrass is all about! This is the premier blugrass band(1945-1948) by which all other bands are measured by. Forty tracks on this box-set. Twenty-eight featuring Bill Monroe(mandolin,tenor),Lester Flatt(guitar,lead),Earl Scruggs(banjo),Robert "Chubby" Wise(fiddle) and Howard "Cedric Rainwater" Watts or Birch Monroe(bass). This is were the bluegrass sound came from as we know it today. It gives me chills listening to them play. A must for bluegrass fans!"