Bluegrass 1950-1958

Bluegrass 1950-1958

by Bill MonroeBill Monroe

CD(Box Set)

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In 1950, Bill Monroe had been on his own with the Bluegrass Boys for over 11 years and had been a Grand Ol Opry member for over ten. More importantly, he had had a successful run with Columbia Records and had left as his music had continued to develop for what he perceived to be a brighter, more lucrative future with Decca in 1950. As usual, Monroe's instinct was correct. The 103 selections compiled here are from Monroe's most fertile, creative period, many of the songs recorded during this era became his signature tracks, such as "Uncle Pen," "Raw Hide," "Get Down On Your Knees and Pray," "Little Georgia Rose," "On and On," "Roanoke," "The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake," and "Kentucky Waltz." It was while at Decca that he introduced and recorded his original and trademark mandolin tuning, where instead of four pairs of strings tuned to the same pitches as a violin, he tuned several pair of strings to two different notes that added the otherworldly timbres to his "high lonesome" sound. In addition to Monroe's recording with the Bluegrass Boys, there are a number of sessions here that put Monroe in the solo spotlight with some of Nashville's hottest session cats, in an attempt by Decca to put Monroe's music in a more modern and mainstream country setting. What is most noteworthy about the period of recordings here, however -- besides the tracks themselves -- are the musicians who played with Monroe during those very fertile and adventurous years. Guitarists included none other than Jimmy Martin from 1950-1954, then Carter Stanley (briefly) before Eddie Mayfield, Jackie Phelps, and Doug Kershaw signed on. Bassists Ernie Newton and Bessie Lee Mauldin joined the band for the first time on these recordings, as did Buddy Killen briefly, and then Culley Holt. Fiddle players were plentiful and stunning during the '50s. Monroe certainly had the pick of the crop in Vassar Clements, Charley Cline, Bobby Hicks, and others. And banjo pickers, while still hard to come by in that three-finger style, were as fine as they came in Rudy Lyle, Don Stover, and Joe Stuart. There is the association here with legendary producer Owen Bradley as a sideman toward the end of the '50s, and the influence of Monroe on the music of the time, where his main competition -- Flatt & Scruggs, grudgingly (briefly) adopted Monroe's Nashville style to further their own careers -- and the spin-offs by Jimmy Martin and others began successful recording careers as well. The story the recordings themselves tell is one of ambition, vision, and restlessness. The songs come in strange batches: there are the numerous co-writes with Hank Williams, sometimes credited, other times willfully, but for no known reason obscured in their authorship. But Monroe's own writing was red-hot as well. His own compositions easily overshadow anything he covered during these years. Monroe was hunting ever deeper and wider for the elusive element that was the very grain of his style of music. He fought hard to keep it contemporary while not giving up anything in return. While it is not explained in the liner notes, his two Decca sessions with Nashville studio cats were perhaps a compromise Monroe himself made to keep the music of the Bluegrass Boys pure. These sessions, five and seven, included many fine songs -- "Sailor's Plea," "Highway of Sorrow," "My Carolina Sunshine Girl," "Peach Picking Time in Georgia" and others -- but only three of them were ever issued before this compilation; the rest, as fine as they were, were left in the bins and the liner notes in the book, as fine as they are, do not explain why the choices were made at the time to leave them on the shelf. In all, this is a stunning collection of Monroe's music at the beginning of his modern era; his first fully mature recordings that would prove so timeless and influential are here, and not on the Columbia recordings. The sound here is also, for the most part, pristine, and never less than very good, with great balancing and equalization. As is customary with Bear Family, the book is chock-full of information and complete session notes, making it an indispensable package, and, along with its companion set, from 1959-1969, the only recordings by Monroe anybody would ever need to really take in his contribution.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/12/1994
Label: Bear Family
UPC: 4000127154231
catalogNumber: 15423
Rank: 97842


Disc 1

  1. Bluegrass Ramble
  2. New Mule Skinner Blues
  3. My Little Georgia Rose
  4. Memories of You
  5. I'm on My Way to the Old Home
  6. Alabama Waltz
  7. I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome
  8. I'll Meet You in Church Sunday Morning
  9. Boat of Love
  10. The Old Fiddler
  11. Uncle Pen
  12. When the Golden Leaves Begin to Fall
  13. Lord Protect My Soul
  14. River of Death
  15. Letter from My Darling
  16. On the Old Kentucky Shore
  17. Rawhide
  18. Poison Love
  19. Kentucky Waltz
  20. The Prisoner's Song
  21. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
  22. Angels Rock Me to Sleep
  23. Brakeman's Blues
  24. Travelin' Blues
  25. When the Cactus Is in Bloom

Disc 2

  1. Sailor's Plea
  2. My Carolina Sunshine Girl
  3. Ben Dewberry's Final Run
  4. Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia
  5. Those Gambler's Blues
  6. Highway of Sorrow
  7. Rotation Blues
  8. Lonesome Truck Driver's Blues
  9. Sugar Coated Love
  10. You're Drifting Away
  11. Cabin of Love
  12. Get Down on Your Knees and Pray
  13. Christmas Time's A-Coming
  14. The First Whippoorwill
  15. In the Pines
  16. Footprints in the Snow
  17. Walking in Jerusalem
  18. Memories of Mother and Dad
  19. The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake
  20. Country Waltz
  21. Don't Put Off Till Tomorrow
  22. My Dying Bed
  23. A Mighty Pretty Waltz
  24. Pike County Breakdown
  25. Wishing Waltz
  26. I Hope You Have Learned
  27. Get Up John

Disc 3

  1. Sitting Alone in the Moonlight
  2. Plant Some Flowers on My Grave
  3. Changing Partners
  4. Y'all Come
  5. On and On
  6. I Believed in You Darling
  7. New John Henry
  8. White House Blues
  9. Happy on My Way
  10. I'm Working on a Building
  11. A Voice from on High
  12. He Will Set Your Fields on Fire
  13. Close By
  14. My Little Georgia Rose
  15. Put My Little Shoes Away
  16. Blue Moon of Kentucky
  17. Wheel Hoss
  18. Cheyenne
  19. You'll Find Her Name Written There
  20. Roanoke
  21. Wait a Little Longer Please Jesus
  22. Let the Light Shine Down on Me
  23. Used to Be
  24. Tall Timber
  25. Brown County Breakdown
  26. A Fallen Star
  27. Four Walls
  28. A Good Woman's Love
  29. Cry, Cry Darling
  30. I'm Sitting on Top of the World

Disc 4

  1. Out in the Cold World
  2. Roane County Prison
  3. Goodbye Old Pal
  4. In Despair
  5. Molly and Tenbrooks
  6. Come Back to Me in My Dreams
  7. Sally Joe
  8. Brand New Shoes
  9. A Lonesome Road to Travel
  10. I Saw the Light
  11. Lord, Build Me a Cabin in Glory
  12. Lord, Lead Me On
  13. Precious Memories
  14. I'll Meet You in the Morning
  15. Life's Railway to Heaven
  16. I've Found a Hiding Place
  17. Jesus, Hold My Hand
  18. I Am a Pilgrim
  19. Wayfaring Stranger
  20. A Beautiful Life
  21. House of Gold
  22. Panhandle Country
  23. Scotland
  24. Gotta Travel On
  25. No One But My Darlin'
  26. Big Moon
  27. Monroe's Hornpipe

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bill Monroe   Primary Artist,Mandolin,Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
Doug Kershaw   Guitar
Kenny Baker   Fiddle,Vocals,Baritone (Vocal)
Don Stover   Banjo,Baritone (Vocal)
Grady Martin   Electric Guitar
Gordon Terry   Fiddle,Bass (Vocal)
Owen Bradley   Organ,Piano,Background Vocals
Boudleaux Bryant   Bass (Vocal),Vocals
Vassar Clements   Fiddle
Charlie Cline   Fiddle,Baritone (Vocal)
Bobby Hicks   Fiddle,Baritone (Vocal)
Buddy Killen   Bass (Vocal),String Bass
Rudy Lyle   Banjo,Vocals,Baritone (Vocal)
Bessie Lee Mauldin   String Bass
Edd Mayfield   Guitar,Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
Ernest Ernie Newton   String Bass
Carter Stanley   Guitar
Joe Stuart   Banjo,Fiddle,Guitar,Vocals
Howard Watts   String Bass
Farris Coursey   Drums
Dale Potter   Fiddle
James Ora Bowers   Banjo
Hubert Davis   Banjo
Joe Drumright   Banjo
Milton Estes   Bass (Vocal),Vocals
Culley Holt   Bass (Vocal),String Bass
Birch Monroe   Bass (Vocal)
Roland "Sonny" Osborne   Banjo
Joel Price   Bass (Vocal),Baritone (Vocal),String Bass
Oscar "Shorty" Sheehan   String Bass
Jack Shook   Guitar
Jim Smoak   Banjo
Merle "Red" Taylor   Fiddle
Thomas Lee Jackson   Fiddle
Jimmy Selph   Guitar
Holt   Bass
James "Hal" Smith   Fiddle
Jimmy Elrod   String Bass

Technical Credits

Bill Monroe   Composer
Jimmie Davis   Composer
Jimmie Rodgers   Composer
Doc Watson   Composer
Gordon Terry   Artwork,Illustrations
Ph.D. A. Rae Price   Composer
Owen Bradley   Producer
David Freeman   Artwork,Illustrations
William Lee Golden   Composer
Ray Henderson   Composer
Pete Kuykendall   Artwork,Illustrations
Jimmy Martin   Illustrations
Bessie Lee Mauldin   Composer
Clayton McMichen   Composer
Jimmy C. Newman   Composer
Hank Williams   Composer
Robert K. Oermann   Artwork,Illustrations
Sam M. Lewis   Composer
Charles K. Wolfe   Liner Notes,Artwork,Illustrations,Cover Art
Neil V. Rosenberg   Liner Notes,Artwork,Illustrations,Cover Art,Biographical Information,Song Notes
R.A. Andreas   Artwork,Illustrations
Richard Weize   Reissue Producer,Tape Research,Cover Art,Biographical Information,Song Notes
Sylke Holtrop   Artwork
Gerd Weiler   Artwork
Jürgen Feuss   Cover Art
Eberhard Finke   Artwork,Illustrations
Guy Massey   Composer
Tennessean   Cover Art
Joe Young   Composer
Chester Smith   Composer
George Vaughn   Composer
Ann Streeter   Artwork,Illustrations
Traditional   Composer
Slim Bryant   Composer
Hazel Houser   Composer
Randy Aronson   Tape Research
Little Robert   Composer
Paul Cohen   Producer
Dottie Swan   Composer

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