Search - Doc Watson :: The Vanguard Years

The Vanguard Years
Doc Watson
The Vanguard Years
Genres: Country, Folk, World Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #4

Traveling into the Carolina hills to record old-time banjoist Clarence Ashley, folklorist Ralph Rinzler happened across a young, guitar-playing neighbor named Arthel "Doc" Watson, and folk and bluegrass music were changed ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Doc Watson
Title: The Vanguard Years
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: Vanguard Records
Release Date: 11/21/1995
Album Type: Box set
Genres: Country, Folk, World Music, Pop
Styles: Bluegrass, Classic Country, Traditional Folk, North America, Appalachian
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaCD Credits: 4
UPCs: 015707005524, 090204408320

Traveling into the Carolina hills to record old-time banjoist Clarence Ashley, folklorist Ralph Rinzler happened across a young, guitar-playing neighbor named Arthel "Doc" Watson, and folk and bluegrass music were changed forever. This four-disc set shows Watson at the height of his powers, from his blazing 1964 original Vanguard album to nine numbers recorded live at the Newport Folk Festival. There's plenty of clean, lightning-quick flatpicking here, of course, but The Vanguard Years also showcases Watson's not inconsiderable skills on the five-string banjo and rack harmonica as well as his warm and personable voice. The revelatory side four contains 17 previously unreleased live recordings, including six duets with the great Merle Travis. This CD makes a perfect introduction to what are arguably the guitar player's finest recordings, with enough new tracks thrown in to please even the Watson cognoscenti. --Mary Park

CD Reviews

Doc Watson's great solo guitar and singing. | Denver Colorado | 09/05/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"September 5, 1998Doc Watson, the Vanguard Years has to be one of the all time great Recording Collection. It was done at a time when Folk Music was getting out to the general public, and there is no greater Folk Guitarist and Singer than Doc Watson.Here is Doc at his very best, alone on the first three discs. His Intoxicated Rat is so funny. Deep River Blues is great finger style guitar, along with Doc's singing. 13. Country Blues 14. Black Mountain Rag 15. Doc's GuitarThese cuts are some of the most wonderful solo guitar playing you have ever heard. 13. Streamline Cannonball 14. Old Camp Meeting Time 15. I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue EyesGreat old country, so old they are really folk music. And Doc singing, his guitar playing, just him alone, you will never forget.7. Brown's Ferry Blues 8. Spike Driver Blues 9. Roll On Buddy 10. I Am A Pilgrim 11. Wabash Cannonball 12. Roll In My Sweet Baby's ArmsIf you missed Doc Singing and picking these songs, you would have missed so very much.Doc Watson is one of the most gifted musicians of our times. His musicianship is showcased in a combination of his picking and singing. Doc is not just a country boy, though he is that. Doc listened to all kinds of music, including Black Blues singers and big bands. He can play the country tunes with such great feeling, and he can play very sophisticated Jazz. I saw Doc Watson with Doctor John in University City Missouri. They were great as solo artists, then they played a show together, country, blues, and jazz. It was pure artistry. To bad these two great artists have never recorded together. Though Doc Watson is good with a large band, he is in my opinion the best when he is solo, which he is on three of these disks. Someone at Vanguard saw his great artistry as a solo act and exploited it, to its utmost degree, in these three great CDs. Thank goodness, for this great exploitation. What would we have done without these recordings? I bought the Vanguard album, "Doc Guitar," before 1965. All the songs on that album are in these three CDS that you get with the boxed set.With these three solo CDs, you get Doc with his son Merle, named after Merle Travis, Doc's most admired Guitar Player. Doc and Merle traveled together, after Merle grew up. Merle flew a private owned plane, owned by Doc. This way the two could jump around the Country without being on the Road all the Time. Merle was killed a few years ago while driving a tractor on his farm. Doc grieved much, but he went on. Doc has a music festival each year named for his beloved son, Merle Watson.Doc Watson now appears with a two other musicians: another guitar player who Doc swaps licks with; a bass player. Doc does little Solo Work on Recordings anymore. Vanguard preserved the great solo work of Doc Watson for all time. If you love old time Country Music, great flat picking, and/or great finger style guitar, order this four CD set today. You will love it.By the Dobroman in Denver"
Historically Important | 09/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Blind singer/guitarist/banjo and harmonica player and, not least, songwriter, Arthel "Doc" Watson was born in Deep Gap, North Carolina on March 2, 1923, and his son Merle (named after Merle Travis who also appears in this box-set in the previously-unreleased tracks in disc 4) came into the world in North Carolina on February 8, 1949. Together, father and son (who also sings and plays banjo) had two minor Country hit singles, both for United Artists, the first coming in 1973 with a # 71 cover of The Fireballs' 1968 Hot 100 hit, Bottle Of Wine b/w Corrina, Corrina on United Artists 276, and the other in 1978 with a cover of the 1963 Peter, Paul & Mary hit, Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, which went to # 88 b/w Under The Double Eagle on United Artists 1231.

But Doc Watson's music was never about hit singles. His simple singing style, alternating between ballads, rags and blues, often only involving himself and his masterful flat-picking guitar playing, is the embodiment of that stripped-down off-shoot of Country known loosely as Country-Folk. Like its "high-lonesome" cousin Bluegrass, Country-Folk rarely employs drums when more than one instrument is involved, relying instead on fiddles, guitars, banjos and harmonicas. And in this marvelous and definitive box-set, all recorded at Vanguard Records between 1963 and 1971, Doc is joined by these artists:

Disc 1 - track 3 - "clawboard" banjo picker Clarence Ashley; track 4 - banjo player Arnold Watson; track 5 - fiddler (and father-in-law( Gaither Carlton; tracks 7, 8 and 9 - guitarist Clarence White (born Clarence LeBlanc and a one-time member of Nashville West, The Byrds, Muleskinner, and the Kentucky Colonels);

Disc 2 - tracks 1, 3 and 4 - son Merle; track 14 - banjo player Don Stover (one-time Blue Grass Boy with Bill Monroe);

Disc 3 - tracks 3, 4 and 5 - guitarist Clint Howard and fiddler Fred Price; track 14 - son Merle;

Disc 4 - tracks 1 to 6 - Country Music Hall Of Famer Merle Travis; tracks 7 to 17 - son Merle.

The sound varies from track to track, as they were compiled from studio sessions over a wide period and, naturally, the live cuts on disc 4, some from his many appearances at the Newport Folk Festival, are the least defined. An insert contains liner notes by the noted compilation producer and annotator Mary Katherine Aldin."