The grass is always bluer on the sunny side of the hill
Kevin Cook | McDonough, Georgia USA | 06/05/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To my way of thinking, bluegrass music is doing its job when it gets your hands and feet to moving and puts your mind on simple, bygone things you recollect, if you're lucky, or must pine for in vain, if you were born too late (like me). Leave it to Rhino Records to come out with a bluegrass sampler that fits the bill to a Model T, mixing bluegrass tunes that have found a fond place in our collective psyche with less familiar (to newbies, anyway) archetypes of the form. Unlike another bluegrass sampler I own, the dreary and redundant "Bluegrass Essentials," "Appalachian Stomp" is as happy and carefree as your best-ever barefoot-summer day. I mean, only a person that's six feet under wouldn't be beguiled by The Osborne Brothers' catchier than poison ivy "Rocky Top" and Sonny Osborne's astounding, mile-high vocal."Stomp's" appetizer tray of songs familiar from movies ("Foggy Mountain Breakdown," "Dueling Banjos") and TV ("Dooley," "The Ballad of Jed Clampett") will prime your palate for the main meal, a heaping helping of hard-core high lonesomeness by bluegrass immortals Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, The Stanley Brothers, Del McCoury, et al. All the old-timey stuff is plumb dee-licious. Sampling more recent vintages, J.D. Crowe and The New South's cover of The Dillards' "Old Home Place" is pretty good (although the original is superior), but I'm still trying to puzzle out the appeal of bluegrass darling Alison Krauss ("Love You in Vain"). She's cute as a button and sure-fire talented, I'll give her that, and she sounds an awful lot like Dolly Parton. You can work that last observation into a compliment, too, if you'd like.The collection's most (in)famous cut may well be "Dueling Banjos," by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell, from the 1972 film "Deliverance." For better or worse, Weissberg and Mandell's calculatedly commercial, radio-friendly guitar vs. banjo arrangement remains the best known one in the song's storied history. The tune has been around, in various forms, since 1889, when it was known as "Banjo Reel." By the 1950s, the tune had metamorphosed into "Feudin' Banjos" (a dual banjo duel between Don Reno and Arthur Smith) and Carl Story's "Mockin' Banjo." An exceptional banjo vs. MANDOLIN version of the song, "Duelin' Banjo," appeared on 1963's "Back Porch Bluegrass," The Dillards' debut album, and later became the basis of a frivolous lawsuit by Arthur Smith, who claimed the band had ripped off "his" song."
Great introduction to traditional bluegrass
Peter Durward Harris | Leicester England | 02/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bluegrass music has seen an upsurge in popularity recently. Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Steve Earle, the O brother soundtrack and the various O sister compilations have all contributed. However, while some of that music is traditional, much of it is a modernised form of the music. Nothing wrong with that, of course - bluegrass, like every other form of music, must modernise or die, and some of it is pure magic - but this compilation draws on the roots of bluegrass, containing many old classics, especially from the fifties, sixties and seventies.Bill Monroe invented bluegrass and his original version of Uncle Pen opens this set. It was later covered by Ricky Skaggs, himself represented by Little cabin home on the hill, a cover of another Bill Monroe song. Bill puts in another appearance here with his version of Blue moon of Kentucky - a song that was covered by Elvis.Foggy mountain breakdown became famous after its use in the 1968 movie, Bonnie and Clyde. Flatt and Scruggs originally recorded it in 1949 and it is that original version that is on this set. The Ballad of Jed Clampett was used as the theme for a TV series, The Beverly hillbillies. When released as a single, it topped the country charts.Rocky top was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, famous as songwriters for the Everly brothers (who eventually recorded the song for their Pass the chicken and listen album). It was a country hit for both Lynn Anderson and the Osborne brothers. Lynn's version was the more successful, but it is the Osborne version that is included here - rightly, as this is a bluegrass collection.Duelling banjos was a huge American pop hit after its use in the movie Deliverance. Other bluegrass classics here include Orange blossom special and Roll in my sweet baby's arms.This is an excellent collection of bluegrass music, ideal as a sampler of what bluegrass used to be like. If you enjoy modern bluegrass and you're not familiar with the oldies, this is the best way to find out. And just to provide you with something familiar, an early Alison Krauss track is included right at the end."