"If you can accept urbanized bluegrass this is the ultimate CD. It's a long way from here to Ralph Stanley but the Seldom Scene impress with the quality of their music. This is a live album, but exceptionally well-recorded (especially since it was made about 1975). Every jack-hammer note of the banjo and painfully high pic of the mandolin comes through sharp, crisp, and clean. Although some may disagree, I enjoy the inane banter of the band and their weak attempts at humor. The SS even poke a little fun at the dead-serious bluegrass traditionalists.
The music is outstanding, especially the opening and closing numbers. The SS clown their way through "Doing my Time" but the harmonies and the instumental solos are of near unbeleivable qualtiy. And "Rider" a version of a Dead song, belongs among bluegrass's all time hits. Bob Dylan's "It's all over now, Baby Blue" is another standout. I guess I like the SS best when they're doing a 'grass version of a un-grass song.
One of the things I like is the exotic -- non country --sounds the SS sometimes get out of their instruments. Some of the notes they hit would be appropriate as back up music for "Star Wars" or a yoga class. You don't have to like country music or bluegrass to enjoy the Seldom Scene. They are quality musicians by the most exacting standards."
A great band at their peak
J. Allen Bull | 12/08/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording captures a few nights of a typical Seldom Scene live performance circa 1973. During this period, the band was at its pinnacle, in their picking, their vocals, and their unity of ensemble. John Duffey, Ben Eldridge, and Mike Auldridge each have a distinct style that makes their sound unique, both in the tone produced from their respective instruments and their choices of licks and notes, and they were all in their typical excellent form during these recordings. As with all Seldom Scene albums of this period (Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, Old Train), the overriding emphasis is on tight vocals, superb arrangements, and overall tastefully done bluegrass (and some non-bluegrass music on bluegrass instruments). Ben Eldridge's playing, particularly his backup, is phenomenal and sounds fresh, unlike some of his later work, which tended to be derivative (albeit from himself). The material on this album is excellent as well. "The Fields Have Turned Brown", "White Line", and even the parody of "acid grass", "Hit Parade of Love" are representative of the understanding these musicians bring to their music. At no time does any one member contribute anything that doesn't add to the overall ensemble (with the exception, of course, of a few of Duffey's licks). Their vocal arrangements are typical Seldom Scene in that they are constantly turning voice parts upside down (high baritone, low tenor, etc.) and inside out to give the best effect on each song. In general, this is a superb album by one of the best bands ever assembled."
Bluegrass As It's Meant To Be Heard...Live!
Steve Vrana | Aurora, NE | 06/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Studio recordings never have the same energy as a live recording. So after four stellar albums, The Seldom Scene recorded their shows at the Cellar Door Dec. 27 and 28, before an appreciative hometown audience. The result is one of the finest albums of their storied career.
The band could have simply cherry picked highlights from their first four albums. Instead, over the course of 22 tracks and more than an hour of music, the audience is treated to no less than 18 songs previously not recorded by one of the best bluegrass bands of all time.
For the most part, the band keeps things fairly traditional--at least by Seldom Scene standards. The set opens with the classic "Doing My Time" and continues with songs by Bill Monroe (three in all), Carter Stanley, and Jimmie Martin. And while there is a hint of parody in their version of Martin's "Hit Parade of Love," it's obvious the sendup is done with affection for the material. Also, there are no fewer than four instrumentals--five, if you count the mostly instrumental "Panhandle Country." Especially enjoyable is hearing basist Tom Gray in the spotlight on "Grandfather's Clock."
The Seldom Scene, however, do not entirely abandon their progressive ways. [Listen to the end of "Panhandle Country" when one of the band members mutters "Look out, New Grass Revival."] They cover Bob Dylan's "Baby Blue." John Duffey takes the lead vocal on Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter." And they expand "Rider" (from ACT 3) to nearly seven minutes. All told, this is a welcome addition to the Seldome Scene catalog and one of the most influential bands in bluegrass. [Running Time - 66:53] VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED"
Classic Seldom Scene
Steve Vrana | 01/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of their best. Traditional bluegrass with modern influences at its finest. Grateful Dead fans will absolutely love the version of Rider. This is from the original lineup of the 'Scene, with John Starling on vocals and guitar and Tom Gray on Bass."
Best SS I've heard
smoss5 | Seattle, WA USA | 07/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The feel of this album is unquestionably that of a live show by a band in its hayday. I spent some time getting frustrated because the group stopped to have fun in the middle of their brilliant jams, but I got over it. The music is so pure and tight that the live forum is obviously their only outlet for goofing off. I have just about worn out the CD. Muddy Water, Fields have Turned Brown- they are as tight as seams on a submarine. Their Rider is the only version that compares to and exceeds the Dead. I own 4 of their albums. If I had to pick one, this would be it"