James E. Bagley | Sanatoga, PA USA | 02/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"True keepers of the flame, the New Lost City Ramblers have staunchly preserved rural 1920s-30s music, especially the primitive southern string band sound eventually dubbed old-timey to distinguish it from the bluegrass it fathered. Mike Seeger (half-brother of Pete), Tom Paley and documentary filmmaker John Cohen formed the trio in 1958, with Cajun enthusiast Tracy Schwarz replacing Paley in 1962. Though they seldom perform together now, this two-CD, 48-song set expands and updates the trio's 1988 20 Years/Concert Performances on Flying Fish, with the thorough discographical source notations of old 78s that marked the trio's Folkways LPs. Whereas The Holy Modal Rounders treated old-timey styles with levity, The NLCR have ardently repeated the original forms. Still, these are no frozen, sterile museum pieces. Some songs are funny - take "She Tickles Me" and, from a scared Spanish-American War grunt, "Battleship Of Maine." Comparing Ian & Sylvia's "Lady Of Carlisle" and the McGarrigles'
"Baltimore Fire" (both learned from the Ramblers) with the NLCR's versions shows they aren't always the greatest vocalists, but with their fiddle, banjo, autoharp and tiny, twangy jew's harp, they've been vital links in a chain leading from The Carter Family and Charlie Poole down to Jerry Garcia and now The Liva-Snaps."
Hear Them Live!
Tribe | Toledo, Ohio United States | 08/15/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're familiar with the NLCR only through their studio recordings, you're in for a real treat with this compilation. If you've never given the Ramblers a chance, this is as good a place as any to start. This compliation is a recap of their long career (I'd dare say that the Ramblers may be one of the longest running musical acts around), and a very good one at that. What struck me about this album is how they've changed over the decades and still have managed to keep their old-time music fresh, faithful to tradition, yet open to innovation. A nice addition to anyone's old-timey music collection."