Uncle Jim O'Neal would be happy & proud to know that his vis
J. Ross | Roseburg, OR USA | 01/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Playing Time - 46:53 -- 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. Early ads for records released by Uncle Jim O'Neal stated that the LPs sold for only $3.50 apiece. The self-professed "Little Cotton Picker," O'Neal also took an approach of releasing 20 songs on each 33 1/3 RPM album. These would have been great bargains in the mid-1960s when major label monaural records (with only about a dozen songs) were selling for $3.98 and stereophonic records were $4.98. The items still sold well, and Rural Rhythm Records thrived and flourished.
A sampler such as this CD will give you a taste of the large and varied Rural Rhythm musical archive. With 25 tracks of music remastered by Steve Hoffman, featured bands include Don Reno & Bill Harrell, Mac Martin & The Dixie Travelers, Frosty Mountain Boys with Raymond Fairchild, Mac Wiseman, Earl Taylor & Jim McCall, Jim Greer & The Mac-O-Chee Valley Boys, Curly Fox, The Marksmen, Bobby Smith and the Boys From Shiloh, Lillie Mae and the Dixie Gospel-Aires. Liner notes are provided by Nashville-based country music historian Colin Escott.
The label continues to demonstrate great business acumen in both issuing and reissuing traditional material to give it the attention and respect it deserves. Resurgence of interest in such material compels music fans with intellectual or fanatical streaks to dig deep into such archival material and seek it out. Songcarriers and musicologists would be particularly interested in this type of archival material. Don't expect to always hear stereo separation, elaborate arrangements or the same level of clarion studio recording quality we hear today. Most of the cuts span about 2 minutes apiece. Just enjoy and relive a classic bluegrass sound of yesteryear. The strength of a sampler like this is its inherent rusticity, rootsy sounds, and historical value. Material from twelve LPs is sampled on this CD.
If you're a traditional bluegrass fan, you're sure to discover artists for further exploration. I've listen extensively to bluegrass for four decades, and my discovery was The Ritchey Brothers who sing "God Put A Rainbow in the Clouds" and "Heavenly Light is Shining on Me." For the label, they produced a tribute to the Delmore Brothers back in 1968. Another band taking advantage of Uncle Jim's business arrangement was an Ohio bluegrass band, Jim Greer and the Mac-O-Chee Valley Folks. They produced three albums on Rural Rhythm. ("Log Cabin Songs" RR-133, "Stars of the WWVA Jamboree" RR-152, "Country Favorites" RR-161). Three of that band's songs (I Saw The Light, Paul and Silas, Church in the WIldwood) are included on this sampler. Uncle Jim O'Neal would be happy and proud to know that his vision and life's work continue to be shared and enjoyed. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)