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RED ALLEN 'Keep On Going: Rebel & Melodeon Recordings' REB-1127-CD

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There's no doubt that Red Allen was among the very best Bluegrass vocalists ever. Sadly, he was in his prime at a time when the music was at its lowest ebb, with the opportunities to play Bluegrass mostly relegated to gigs in sleazy bars and dives in the Northeast and Midwest, a few firemen's carnivals, and as warm up acts in the dying country music park scene. But Allen joined with fellow Kentuckians Bob & Sonny Osborne to produce some of the finest Bluegrass ever cut, with their classic MGM recordings of the mid 1950s. These two marvelous Rebel re-issues pick up sometime after that, when Red was an important player in the Washington, DC hot bed, first with buddy Frank Wakefield, then with his own band The Kentuckians. Then, a strange series of events joined him with a very young David Grisman, who proceeded to supervise (and take part in) two great albums for the new County label in 1965-1966. Although most fans will want both of these CD's (each with at least 23 songs) they are available separately, with "Keep On Going" containing 6 tracks with Wakefield (3 never before issued), plus his entire Melodeon album with Bill Emerson and the Yates Brothers, and 4 early Rebel tracks that include the legendary Scotty Stoneman on fiddle. The 2nd record, "Lonesome & Blue", features the two Grisman-produced County LP's, the first with fine fiddle by a young Richard Greene (his first recordings ever), and the wonderful hard-driving, tasteful banjo of the under-rated Porter Church. Grisman himself plays fine mandolin on about half the songs, which also include the previously unissued SEVEN YEAR BLUES and BRANDED WHEREVER I GO. Allen was great in picking his material, turning country songs like the Louvins' MY BABY'S GONE and Kitty Wells' WHOSE SHOULDER WILL YOU CRY ON and THERE MUST BE ANOTHER WAY TO LIVE into cutting edge, dynamic Bluegrass. The 2 discs here contain a string of gems like HELLO CITY LIMITS, WHAT ABOUT YOU, OUT ON THE OCEAN, LITTLE BIRDIE, CLOSE BY, THE FAMILY WHO PRAYS and ARE YOU WAITING JUST FOR ME. This is tough, magnificent traditional Bluegrass, with our highest recommendation!$ 13.99 each