This four-disc set compiles material from nine Jim & Jesse albums originally released on their own record label in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a few radio show recordings and some previously uncompiled singles. In 1972, tired of the pressure they were feeling from the major labels to modernize their sound with drums and electric guitars, the brothers Jim & Jesse McReynolds formed the Old Dominion label and began producing and releasing their own albums. Among the nine collected here (some, but not all, in their entirety), there are two gospel albums, a collection of patriotic songs released during the U.S. bicentennial, and an album recorded live in Japan. All feature the McReynolds brothers' winning combination of tradition and innovation; the irony of the Jim & Jesse story is that even as they were resisting the more crass modernizations urged on them by record executives, they were developing a sound that was really quite progressive in bluegrass terms. They adopted the electric bass early on, their banjo players were typically well-versed in the melodic Tony Trischka
approach, and, along with traditional bluegrass standards like "Live and Let Live" and "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues," they frequently performed material with more complicated, country-derived structures. Jesse's own "Jesus Is the Key to the Kingdom" is one good example of that tendency, as is a surprising cover version of Chuck Berry
's "Back in the U.S.A." This outstanding box set provides an excellent overview of one of bluegrass music's finest ensembles working at the peak of its powers.