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The Country Gentlemen
The Complete Vanguard Recordings

Review by Steven Stone
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The Country Gentlemen The Complete Vanguard Recordings

CD Stock Number: Vanguard Records 79711-2

 

  If you listen to vintage Bill Monroe recordings and then to current bluegrass from the likes of Allison Krauss, it's hard to see how we got from there to here. But once you listen to the Country Gentlemen you can see how the musical dots connect. The Country Gentlemen were one of the first bands to combine the drive of Bill Monroe with modern pop finesse. On The Complete Vanguard Recordings we have an opportunity to discover their influential style while reveling in the freshness of their music.

Fronted by Charlie Waller on guitar and lead vocals, the Country Gentlemen's line-up included a number of musicians who've gone on to have important careers on their own. Mandolinist Doyle Lawson founded the band Quicksilver, which continues the Country Gentlemen’s style of tight harmonic bluegrass. After Country Gentleman Ricky Skaggs joined Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band, then his own solo career catapulted him to the top of the country charts. Jerry Douglas had his first steady gig with the Country Gentleman before he evolved into the most in-demand dobro player in the world. Even at the beginnings of their careers, these players were superlative pickers. Here is the proof.

The Complete Vanguard Recordings includes all the material from The Countrty Gentlemen (1973) and Remembrances (1974). Their song selection was eclectic and urbane. Tunes by bluegrass traditionalists Bill Monroe and John Duffy joined "contemporary" material by Paul Simon, Kris Kistofferson, John Prine, Steve Goodman, and John Loudermilk. Tight sophisticated vocal harmonies were a fundamental element in their style. They nailed their three-part harmonies on the chorus of "One Morning in May." In the Country Gentlemen's hands even pop material, such as "The Leaves that Are Green," by Paul Simon sounds like a bluegrass standard.

David Glasser at Airshow Mastering transferred the original analog recordings into 24-bit/88.2kHz digital format where they were tweaked with Sonic Solutions software. The result is a clean yet warm sound. Producer Fred Jasper included the original album notes from the 1973 release along with his own introduction. While the packaging isn’t fancy, it is complete. I especially like the cover shot of the band wearing denim pant suits.

 

Enjoyment: 90

Sound Quality: 90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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