Search - John Hartford :: Aereo-Plain

John Hartford
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1

John Hartford didn't just bite the hand that fed him; he made it a full-course meal. After Glen Campbell rode Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind" to the top of the charts, Hartford was secure enough to stick his tongue out at t...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: John Hartford
Title: Aereo-Plain
Members Wishing: 22
Total Copies: 0
Label: Rounder Select
Release Date: 9/9/1997
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock
Styles: Bluegrass, Classic Country, Traditional Folk, Country Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 011661036628

John Hartford didn't just bite the hand that fed him; he made it a full-course meal. After Glen Campbell rode Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind" to the top of the charts, Hartford was secure enough to stick his tongue out at the Nashville establishment. His songs offer an almost unparalleled blend of sardonicism and sincerity, a silliness tempered by a respect for musical tradition and beautiful melody. And despite his irreverence, he attracted the best pickers in the business. Norman Blake, Tut Taylor, Vassar Clements, and Randy Scruggs accompany him on this 1971 "newgrass" gem, a spontaneous album that was recorded live in the studio without any arrangements whatsoever. Delicious instrumentals stand by novelties about sex ("Boogie") and drugs ("Holding"), and semiserious diatribes ("Tear Down the Grand Ole Opry") live next to old-time gospel harmonies ("Turn Your Radio On"). Somehow, Aereo-Plain manages to be deeply cynical and emotionally uplifting at the same time. --Marc Greilsamer

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CD Reviews

Harford Reinvents Bluegrass On "Aero-Plain"
Gavin B. | St. Louis MO | 03/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Aero-Plain" has been called the "Revolver" of bluegrass. This 1971 release by John Harford, preceded the Dirtband's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (presumably the "Sargeant Peppers"), by well over a year. "Aero-Plain" is a song cycle which celebrates the rise and fall the old time music subculture. Ironically, Hartford's coda to bluegrass was premature, as "Aero-Plain" found a hip young audience. As a result, bluegrass began to morph into "new-grass" and "progressive" variations for 30 years. Producer David Bromberg had as much to do with the success of "Aero-Plain" as Hartford. Bromberg, a fellow traveller in folk circles, resisted efforts to do second takes, or embellish the tracks with overdubbing. Bromberg captured a pristine sound quality with the freewheeling ambience of a back-porch picking session. Hartford's quirky personna was served well by the lean production values.The Aeroplane Band assembled by Hartford was astounding line-up of noteable country instrumentalists. Vassar Clements, ex-Bill Monroe fiddler; Norman Blake master of mandolin, dobro and flat-top guitar; and Tut Tyler, legendary innovator of the flat-picked dobro style. Randy Scruggs, normally a lead guitarist, played bass on the "Aero-Plain" session. Hartford moved with suprisingly equal facility between banjo and guitar. The song cycle begins with A.J. Brumley's anthem to old time gospel radio, "Turn Your Radio On". For 45 minutes, Hartford is the tour guide, sweeping the listener away on a wonderous "Steam Powered Aeroplane"; back to Hartford's days as a river-boat hand, down to the city dump where old timers pass relive past glories, up on the hill where they do the boogie, pausing to reflect on his first love, and landing at the Grand Ol' Opry; the country music shrine, Ryman Auditorium. It's sentimental stuff, but Hartford keeps the pathos at bay with his eccentric stoner/philosopher humor. "Boogie" may be the most bizarre song to ever reach vinyl. Accompanied only by foot stomping, Hartford grunts an invitation to "boogie", interrupted only by long fits of heavy breathing. "Holding" is about a frantic search for cannibas. The scope of the album is breaktaking, as Hartford skillfully lays claim to bluegrass credibility with a loopy counter-cultural sensibility.In 2001, exactly 30 years after the release of "Aero-Plain", the bluegrass revival that Hartford shaped, rose like a sleeping giant to challenge the MOR country music establishment. The astounding dark-horse success of the "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack, sent the pop/rock stars of Nashville scrambling to figure out what a mandolin was, and how to use it on their next album. Hartford probably got a smile out of seeing his musical revolution come to fruition. "Oh Brother" (the "Nevermind" of bluegrass?) sold 3 million copies largely on word-of-mouth and won a Grammy for Album of the Year. They can tear down the Grand Ol' Opry, but the music that built it refuses to go away.
(BUYER TIP: In 2001 "Steam Powered Aeroplane Takes" was released. There are some fascinating outtakes from the 1971 sessions included; but this is the album that contains cream of the session)."
The Album that changed Bluegrass Forever
Ted The Fiddler | Spring City, PA USA | 08/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Well, many here have said it more eloquently than I, but I was a friend of Hartford's, and spoke off and on to many musicians over the past 30 years and every one, including myself, point to this recording as Life Changing. After we all heard this, we stopped being afraid. It's that simple. Sam Bush, Tim O'Brian, Pete Wernick, Tony Trischka, everybody that ever played progressive Bluegrass or New Grass points to this Album as the shining beacon that inspired them to take the risks that lead them to where they are today. I'm still trying to imitate what Vasser was doing on this album 30 years later... It's one of the few Perfect recordings of all time that I can genuinely recommend and say if you don't like it, I'd be absolutely amazed."
Takes you to another world
Steve Vrana | 04/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"John Hartford has a way of taking us beyond the plastic confines of postmodern America and back to a world of muddy rivers, rolling green hills, and the syncopated rhythm of old fiddlers twisting tunes out of the air and into our consciousness. This album is one of the most original in the bluegrass/old time pantheon. It's one of those rare opportunities to experience first-hand the reflections of a true old soul looking out at an ever "progressing" America, and the silliness with which John tells the story is both delightful and comforting. "Well the city's grown up so it looks all strange like a crossword puzzle on the landscape. Looks like an electric shaver where the court house used to be." Also, First Girl I Loved is one of the prettiest (unrequited) love songs around. These songs are absolute gems to be listened to and admired for years and years. If you don't yet have Aereoplane, do yourself a wonderful favor and get it now. The cover photo alone is worth the price of the CD!"