Enjoy and relive a classic bluegrass sound of yesteryear
J. Ross | Roseburg, OR USA | 01/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Playing Time - 44:38 -- With over 50 years in business, Rural Rhythm Records has built a catalog that connects many dots from past to present. Since its 1955 creation, Rural Rhythm has released hundreds of classic performances by many legendary bluegrass and old-time musicians such as J.E. Mainer, Don Reno, Red Smiley, Mac Wiseman, Vassar Clements, Hylo Brown, Bill Harrell, Jim Eanes, and many others. This album is part of that archival catalog. The label owes its Arcadia, California start to Uncle Jim O'Neal. whose vision was to release the music of many top bluegrass and old-time musicians in the 1950-70s, seeking success where Starday had failed by producing records of limited appeal by lesser known, albeit talented, musicians. Produced by Lee Sutton (the same visionary who captured the music of the legendary J.E. Mainer), this album captured some of the consistenly high quality work of Red Smiley and his band.
Prior to fronting the Bluegrass Cut-Ups, Red Smiley was with Don Reno, one of the of the pioneering first-generation bluegrass bands, very popular and influential throughout the 50s and 60s, but never as commercially successful as Flatt and Scruggs or Bill Monroe. Red Smiley brought his new group, the Bluegrass Cutups, to Rural Rhythm, with Tater Tate in Reno's place. Tater had already worked a spell with Bill Monroe before joining Red in 1965. Fans of traditional bluegrass could hardly go wrong with Red Smiley and the Bluegrass Cutups' original clear and sparkling albums (RR-160, 182, 211) that included hymns, instrumentals, novelty, bluegrass and even a few old pop songs, all handled with grace. Although not in stereo when originally released, RR-211 was showcased as "a model for all small-label productions." As part of Rural Rhythm's Heritage Collection, this CD of reissued material now gives us 25 of the best cuts, remastered from the original tapes. Liner notes are included from country music historian Colin Escott.
"The Best of Red Smiley" is a great introduction to his band's music that was very well received (and quite eclectic) for the time. Don't expect elaborate arrangements or clarion studio recording quality we hear today. Rather, just enjoy and relive a classic bluegrass sound of yesteryear. Red's health forced him into retirement in the late-60s. He was a warm and affable individual with a great personality. Smiley died on Jan. 2, 1972. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)