July 7, 1999
Question from the Bela Fleck usenet group: “What can you tell me about some of the albums that Bela Fleck recommends in the liner notes to his Tales from the Acoustic Planet – Volume Two: The Bluegrass Sessions? “
July 8 1999
Flatt & Scruggs--The Columbia Recordings. Definition of Classic. Earl is the source. However, the recording quality is dated, and the vocals (trad bluegrass vocals in general) can be an acquired taste for listeners unaccustomed to that style. Personally, I'd suggest as an intro to traditional bluegrass a more recent band, like the Johnson Mountain Boys or Del McCoury Band, and if that grabs you, work back. Also, I prefer Bill Monroe's voice (a very personal issue of taste here), and my favorite work of his (early '50s to mid '60s) actually post-dates his F&S recordings. There is an excellent 4-CD set on MCA covering his entire career, from 1936-1994.
John Hartford--AeroPlane. One of his best albums, and Vassar is great on it.
Tony Rice--Manzanita. A progressive bluegrass (sans banjo) classic, with a stellar cast. It just gets better with age and zillions of listenings, and this version of "Midnight on the Stormy Deep" is still my favorite.
J.D. Crowe--Old Home Place. Great album , big influence on both traditional and progressive musicians.
Andy Statman--Flatbush Waltz. For shame, Rounder Records, for still not transfering this to CD, or his great followup, "Nashville Mornings, New York Nights" (which has Bela on it). Flatbush is an unclassifiable masterpiece of jazz, eastern european, jewish, grassy, whatever music. One of my favorite albums ever, in any genre. The title track, incidently, has become a modern klezmer standard, performed and twice recorded by Itzak Perlman no less, on his "Fiddler's House" discs, and performed by virtually every klezmer band on the wedding circuit these days.
The David Grisman Rounder Album. Dawg in the bluegrass tradition. Great stuff. The 2-CD traditional bluegrass follow-up from 10 years ago, "Home is where the Heart Is" is also excellent.
Muleskinner. Excellent groundbreaking music. The studio album is more progressive and unusual for its time (early '70s), but the live album on Sierra is also terrific, as is the video that Sierra has released.
Tony Trischka: Bluegrass Light. This and the follow-up LP, "Heartlands," are both available complete on a single Rounder CD. Early progressive Trischka albums, and Andy Statman does some great soloing. Very good, and shows where, to a certain extent, Bela came from.