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COUNTRY, BLUEGRASS & OLD-TIMEY

The Farmer Boys -> Harmonica Frank Floyd

RAMOND FAIRCHILD
THE FARMER BOYS
SHUG FISHER & HIS RANCHMEN TRIO
TERRY FELL
NARVEL FELTS
LESTER FLATT
LESTER FLATTLESTER FLATT & EARL SCRUGGS
"HARMONICA" FRANK FLOYD
 

  
RAYMOND FAIRCHILD Copper Creek 194 Plays The Classics ● CD $15.98
Famed banjo player from North Carolina plays 13 bluegrass standards accompanied by guitar, fiddle & bass on these recordings originally issued on the Skyline label in the mid 80s. Includes Flint Hill Special/ Turkey In The Store/ Roll On Buddy/ Foggy Mountain Special/ Daybreak In Dixie/ Katy Hill/ Under The Double Eagle and others.

 

THE FARMER BOYS Bear Family BCD 15579 Flash, Crash & Thunder ● CD $21.98
The Farmer Boys' story hasn't been told even though their records have long been favorites among rockabilly and country collectors, particularly in Europe. Now, for the first time, the story of Bobby Adamson and Woody Murray, transplanted Arkansans whose families moved to Northern California during the War years. After the duo formed in the early fifties, they became a part of the same regional scene that nurtured the Maddox Brothers and Rose and evolved into the Bakersfield scene. And from 1955-1957 they recorded 16 incredible numbers in Capitol's L.A. studios, most of them upbeat country, backed by the cream of the Bakersfield pickers. Among these were Maddox Bros. lead guitarist Roy Nichols and steel guitarist Norm Hamlet (both future members of Merle Haggard's Strangers), Buck Owens and Tommy Collins (as sidemen), legendary Bakersfield bandleader Bill Woods, and former Bob Wills drummer Johnny Cuviello. The Boys' sound was a rawer, uptempo, tongue-in-cheek version of the Louvin Brothers. Their material came from various sources (Charming Betsy is an old Lulubelle and Scotty number), some of the best tunes like You're A Humdinger and Oh, How It Hurts came from Tommy Collins. Yearning, Burning Heart came from Buck Owens, who co-wrote three other numbers. Indeed, their harmonies anticipated those on Buck's Capitol sides several years later. But though they toured extensively in the fifties, the timing wasn't right and they eventually disbanded and left music. Cary Ginell's notes, based on interviews with Adamson, place everything in perspective. Comes complete with rare in-studio photos. Another gem. (RK)

 
TERRY FELL Bear Family BCD 15762 Truck Driving Man ● CD $21.98
24 tracks, 53 minutes, fans only
Terry Fell had one shining moment: his 1954 recording of Truck Driving Man for the RCA subsidiary label X. It remains a classic of the trucker genre that's been covered numerous times (though Buck Owens didn't play on it, as he's said he did -- he's on Fell's last RCA session). That said, it's also safe to say that little else Fell recorded for X or RCA was terribly interesting, though Mississippi River Shuffle is pleasant and I'm Hot to Trot anticipates Roger Miller's looniness. Fell's own compositions are mildly interesting, and Don't Drop It is mildly amusing the first couple times. Like other RCA country artists of the fifties, Fell also endured the label's proclivity for shoving crappy novelties down artists' throats, hence the dreadful Wham! Bam! Hot Ziggety Zam and (We Wanta) See Santa Do The Mambo. You may want to keep the worst novelty, the revoltingly stupid Caveman, around to play in the background if you have unwanted guests. If it doesn't convince 'em to hit the road nothing will. Aside from Fell's biggest hit, virtually nothing else here was worth reissuing. Try as he might, Colin Escott has trouble mustering up much enthusiasm in his notes. (RK)

 
NARVEL FELTS Bear Family BCD 15690 Drift Away - Best, 1973-1979 ● CD $21.98
After two decades of middling success, Narvel Felts suddenly hit the big time as a country artist in 1973. For the rest of the decade he was one of the best-selling artists in country music with R&B flavored hits like Drift Away/ Reconsider Me/ Somebody Hold Me/ Lonely Teardrops/ My Prayer/ Funny How Time Slips Away. They're all here and 21 more.

 
SHUG FISHER & HIS RANCHMEN TRIO B.A.C.M. 35 Cowboy Jubilee ● CD $14.98
24 tracks, 61 mins, recommended
Excellent collection of Western songs performed by singer/ bassist Shug Fisher who was a member of the Sons Of The Pioneers in the 40s and 50s. These performances taken from commercial recordings and radio transcriptions made in the late 40s and early 50s features him with his own group The Ranchmen Trio and in addition to fine harmony singing includes some splendid instrumental work on fiddle and steel guitar by unidentified musicians. A couple of cuts feature the distinctive electric guitar stylings of Merle Travis (these are also on the Merle Travis box set on Bear Family).  (FS)
SHUG FISHER & HIS RANCHMEN: Beautiful Texas/ Belle Of Cheyenne/ Bury Me Out On The Prairie/ Cool Water/ Cowboy Jubilee/ Cowboy's Dream/ Fiddler Joe/ Forgive And Forget/ Gooseberry Pie/ Little Cabin In The Cascade Mountains/ Little Joe The Wrangler/ Lonesome Train Blues/ Moonlight On The Prairie/ Only A Message From Home Sweet Home/ Out On The Open Range/ Ridin' Down To Santa Fe/ Spanish Cavalier/ Sweet Evalina/ Texas Plains/ The Convict And The Rose/ We'll Rest At The End Of The Trail/ When The Bloom Is On The Sage/ Whoopee Ti Yi Yo Git Along Little Dogies/ Wonder Valley

 
LESTER FLATT Bear Family BCD 15975 Flatt On Victor .. And More ● CD $139.98
6 CD box set with 52 page book.

 
LESTER FLATT Bear Family BCD 16614 Live At Vanderbilt ● CD $21.98
26 tracks, recommended
Fine live set recorded at Vanderbilt University in Nashville in March 1974 by the great bluegrass vocalist Lester Flatt and his fine band which included Curley Seckler, Kenny Baker and a 15 year old Marty Stuart. Guest for the evening is Lester's boss of more than 20 years previously the great Bill Monroe who performs three songs himself and duets with Lester on three. Originally issued as an LP on RCA in 1974 this CD features 11 bonus unissued cuts. Most of the material is traditional or from the Flatt & Scruggs or Monroe repertoire - Flint Hill Special/ Homestead On The Farm/ Orange Blossom Special/ The Fall Is A Lonesome Time For Me/ Uncle Pen/ Will You Be Lovin' Another Man/ Sally Goodin/ Red Wing/ Cumberland Gap and others. These recordings were previously on the six CD set on Bear Family "Flatt & Victor" - if you can't afford that set this is a nice way to get this significant concert on a single CD. 32 page booklet has informative notes, a reminiscence by Marty Stuart and lots of great photos taken at the concert. (FS)

 
LESTER FLATT & EARL SCRUGGS Bear Family BCD 15472 1948-59 ● CD $79.98
With this set, Bear Family makes another invaluable contribution to our understanding and appreciation of bluegrass history. Accompanied by a fifteen page booklet by Neil Rosenberg that includes a discography of the period, this four CD set includes all of the recordings made by Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the Foggy Mountain Boys for Mercury and Columbia between 1949 and April, 1959. Although the Mercury material has been available domestically on Rounder for some time, this is the first time a comprehensive collection of all the material from their classic period has been assembled. Because of The Ballad Of Jed Clampett and the inclusion of the original Foggy Mountain Breakdown in the soundtrack of Bonnie & Clyde, Flatt and Scruggs were world famous in the 60's and 70's. But by then, as with many innovators, their most important groundbreaking work had been done. Alumni of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys, Lester and Earl advanced the art of bluegrass in their own ways, both individually and collectively. Earl Scruggs was the first true virtuoso of bluegrass banjo - he may not have invented the three fingered style of picking, but he refined it and ultimately defined it. Lester Flatt's unique lead guitar style, with its patented G run, and his easygoing, tightlipped vocal style are still much imitated. Many other innovators, great players and singers were members of the band. Buck "Uncle Josh" Graves set the standard on bluegrass dobro for years to come, Paul Warren, Benny Martin, Art Wooten and Chubby Wise were among the fiddle players employed by Flatt and Scruggs, and mandolinist Curly Seckler's wonderful, bellowing tenor added much of the raw country emotion to the Foggy Mountain Boys' trios and quartets. Also with the band during this period were singer and guitarist Mac Wiseman, bassists and singers Hylo Brown, Howard Watts, Jody Rainwater and Onie Wheeler. There are 112 tracks in this collection, containing some of the greatest bluegrass ever recorded from one of its' greatest bands. Highly recommended to anyone who cares about bluegrass. 9RP)

 
LESTER FLATT & EARL SCRUGGS Bear Family BCD 15559 1959-63 ● CD $119.98
Deluxe 5-CD follow-up to their great 4-CD set (Bear Family BCD 15472), which was devoted to this seminal bluegrass band from 1948-59. These 4 years find singer/guitarist Flatt and banjo-player extraordinaire Scruggs cranking out fine 45s for their traditional country and bluegrass fans, while creating fine concept albums for the new LP market, and especially for the nascent folk revival, which had discovered them at the 1959 & 1960 Newport Folk Festival. Both these hard-charging, full blast bluegrass 45s and the more laid-back LPs are in this chronological set, along with rare or unissued tunes. All 6 LPs- the gospel "Songs of Glory", the all instrumental banjo showcase "Foggy Mountain Banjo", their 3 LPs exploring classic American folklore, "Songs Of The Famous Carter Family" / "Folk Songs Of Our Land" & "Hard Travelin'--Ballad Of Jed Clampett & the live Carnegie Hall concert- are here. The whole of the concert is here, with 19 tunes not on the LP, including the encore with Merle Travis. In addition, a rare square dance session led by fiddler Gordon Terry, with the Flatt & Scruggs band, Travis on guitar, and, unfortunately, a caller, recorded for RCA in 1963, is included. Highlights are rare 45s like Go Home/ Too Old For A Broken Heart/ Welcome To The Club/ & Just A'int, which recreate the brilliance of their early years, while the whole set captures them in fine form, before they are set adrift in a sea of Beverly Hillbillies. The usual tremendous job from Bear Family, with fine notes from Neil Rosenberg, pictures & discography, which no self-respecting banjo picker can do without. (JM)

 
LESTER FLATT & EARL SCRUGGS Bear Family BCD 15879 1964-1969, plus ● CD $139.98
6 CDs,169 tracks,7 hours 3 min; , good, but not that good
During the period covered by this boxed set, Flatt and Scruggs became the most commercially successful bluegrass of all time; at the same time, forces beyond their control were moving them inexorably toward a breakup that became more inevitable as time went on. The music presented here contributed greatly to the break-up. This set is a fascinating object lesson in how popular success and the pressures that come with it can destroy the very essence of a band from outside the popular mainstream. There is good Flatt and Scruggs music here, but as the the band's chronology draws to a close, there is less and less, and by 1969, when the band finalloy splits, the music on the albums they are producing is hardly recognizable as bluegrass -- but it isn't very good anything else, either. There is a nice live album recorded live at Vanderbilt University in 1963, there is a fine all instrumental album with Doc Watson cut in 1966. By this time, however, The Foggy Mountain Boys' sound was changing noticeably. Charlie McCoy's harmonica was becoming ubiquitous, drums and electric guitar were ever more present, and the band's producers, Don Law and later Bob Johnston were insistent on the band including more contemporary "folk"compositions on each new album. Some of the material worked , after a fashion; but more and more, however, the band found themselves recording Bob Dylan compositions, with whom Flatt and Scruggs shared a label, and in Bob Johnston, a producer. Worse, they were prodded to cover John Sebastian, The Monkees, even Buffy Saint Marie. The band also recorded themes for "The Beverly Hillbillies" television show, as well as themes for "Green Acres" and "Petticoat Junction" and an album's worth of material based on the movie "Bonnie and Clyde". Also included is an album's worth of material featuring vocals by various members of the Beverly Hillbillies Cast, with titles like Jethro's a Powerful Man and What A Great Doctor Granny Is. An unexpected bonus here is the inclusion of a squace album cut for RCA Victor in 1961 under the leadership of the great fiddler Gordon Terry , with Flatt and Scruggs and The Foggy Mountain boys, Merle Travis, plus drums and piano, but without the calls that were on the second Flatt and Scruggs Boxed set; this reissue also includes four tracks from that session never before issued; Cheyenne/ Chicken Reel/ Down Yonder, and Bile Them Cabbage Down. It is the purest manifestation of Flatt and Scruggs' genius to be found on the whole set. (RP)

 
LESTER FLATT & EARL SCRUGGS Columbia CK 8464 Songs Of The Famous Carter Family ● CD $7.98
Reissue of Flatt & Scruggs LP featuring Mother Maybelle Carter and the Foggy Mountain Boys. 12 songs - Keep On The Sunny Side/ Foggy Mountain Top/ Jimmy Brown The Newsboy/ Worried Man Blues/ Gathering Flowers From The Hillside and 7 more.

 
LESTER FLATT & EARL SCRUGGS County 111 You Can Feel It In Your Soul ● CD $15.98
Another outstanding reissue from County, this time focusing on the gospel output of Flatt & Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Quartet, which consisted of Curly Sechler and bassist Paul Warren on vocals in addition to Lester and Earl. Buck Graves on dobro is also on most cuts. These are classic vocal performances by a great band at its peak. Many of these songs have become staples of the standard bluegrass repertoire and these are definitive performances. It's good to have these gospel performances gathered together here on one album. Songs include Cabin On The Hill/ Heaven/ Joy Bells/ Who Will Sing For Me/ Gone Home/ Give Me Flowers While I'm Living . Good liner notes and session information. Highly recommended. (RP)

 
FLATT & SCRUGGS Columbia-Legacy C2K 64877 The Essential Flatt & Scruggs ● CD $17.98
2 CDs, 34 tracks, 86 mins, essential. As with Lefty, Bear Family has chronicled Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, but the cost is high. The alternative is this compilation of their best from 1950 through 1967 including such obvious favorites as the 1951 title song (a Mac Wiseman composition), Earl's instrumental showcases Earl's Breakdown, Foggy Mountain Chimes, a 1967 Columbia re-recording of Foggy Mountain Breakdown (the original was on Mercury), Flint Hill Special and Randy Lynn Rag. Dobroist Josh Graves shows his stuff on Shuckin' The Corn and the Carter Family's You Are My Flower. Also here is the original of Crying My heart Out Over You, which Ricky Skaggs later made a hit, The trite F & S chart hit Polka On A Banjo appear with three of their TV-related songs: The Ballad of Jed Clampett and Pearl, Pearl Pearl (from The Beverly Hillbillies) and Petticoat Junction. Two covers of 60's pop tunes appear, the Lovin Spoonful's Nashville Cats and Bob Dylan's Down in the Flood, and Scruggs's desire to record such fare helped split them up in 1969 when Lester quit to play traditional bluegrass and Earl chose a more progressive direction with his sons in the Earl Scruggs Revue. Again, Patrick Carr's appreciation is heartfelt but inadequate on its own. (RK)

 
FLATT & SCRUGGS Koch 7929 At Carnegie Hall ● CD $16.98
First time this historic concert from 1962 has been issued in the USA in its entirety. Over 70 minutes long with 32 tracks.

 
"HARMONICA" FRANK FLOYD Genes 9905 The Great Medical Menagerist ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 44 min., recommended The reissue of 1972 recordings by this American original, a man whose is certainly best known for his early 50's recordings for the Sun and Chess labels. When these later numbers were laid down, Floyd was in his mid-60's, and it's fair to say that he sounds his age. But it's equally fair to say that he still sounds like Harmonica Frank too. And I don't know of anyone else of whom that could be said. Selections include Mosquito Bar Britches, Blue Yodel #6, Swamproot, Tour de Floyd, Sweet Temptation, the crudely risque number Shampoo, Steppin' to Convington, and Knothole Blues. Unique music, nicely reissued here with solid notes by Denise Tapp. (DH)

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