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VARIOUS 'The Best Of Traditional American Bluegrass' GA-214-CD

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Following up a strange compilation on the same label that we reviewed earlier (see GA-062, "THE APPALACHIAN TRADITION"), the New York-based Great American label has issued another similar anthology that presents more of the same strengths and weaknesses. To cover the positive first, there are 20 tracks, most well re-mastered, and it's mostly excellent music and a bargain. On the minus side, there's very little Bluegrass, despite the CD's title, and to call it a "Bluegrass" album is a blatant inaccuracy. At the end of his notes Bill Dahl states "These 20 classic performances represent the roots of Bluegrass", which is a much more honest description). Dahl's notes proceed along OK for about two thirds of the way, then unfortunately are marred by some errors that could have been avoided with a proof reading by any knowledgeable old-time music fan: The Kentucky Ramblers --represented by a nice cut of PRETTY WHITE ROSE --had nothing to do with the Prairie Ramblers who appeared on Chicago radio and backed Patsy Montana on recordings, except that both groups were from Kentucky. Then Dahl seems determined to perpetuate the misconception that Wade Mainer's RAMSHACKLE SHACK was later revived by George Jones and The Tams (a beach music group) --he is confusing this with another song! The only other complaint we have is the inclusion of tracks by Erik Darling, Dick Weissman and the Kossoy Sisters -- urban folk artists whose music seems seriously out of place among cuts by Frank Jenkins, Grayson & Whitter, Dock Walsh, Jimmie Tarlton, Uncle Dave Macon, and the Monroe Brothers among others. Though many old time fans may already have most of the pieces here, there are some great performances like Marion Underwood's COAL CREEK MARCH, Frank Jenkins' BAPTIST SHOUT, Macon's SUSIE LEE, and Earl Johnson's AIN'T NOBODY'S BUSINESS.