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The Essential Earl Scruggs

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Album Review

"The Paganini of the banjo"'s finest moments are collected on Columbia/Legacy's aptly named Essential Earl Scruggs. Unlike many other "best-of" collections, this two-disc set gathers tracks from nearly all of the stages of Scruggs' career, from his early days as one of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, through his genre-defining work with Lester Flatt, and a sampling of his solo career, including his appearances with Hylo Brown, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and leading his own Earl Scruggs Revue. Informative liner notes by historian Rich Kienzle, banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, and Scruggs himself illustrate the man behind the fingers, and the recording quality of the music is clear and consistent throughout. Hearing all of this pickin' in one place really reminds the listener how vital Scruggs was in popularizing the sound of bluegrass in the '40s, '50s, and '60s, and his innovations through the '70s and '80s. While stronger collections of Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe recordings are available, none showcase the man behind the banjo as completely as this fine compilation does.

Customer Reviews

Save yourself some aggravation

It may seem strange to give a recording 5 stars and then recommend you not buy it, but that's exactly what I'm going to do. The problem is this music is so good, and so addicting, that within a few weeks I had bought most of the Flatt & Scruggs library and two Bill Monroe Boxsets - rendering most of the songs on this collection duplicates. Instead of this, just go now and buy Flatt & Scruggs' Complete Mercury Recordings and the Foggy Mountain Jamboree album, and The Essential Bill Monroe 1945-1949. You'll also want to download the song Foggy Mountain Top from the "Songs of the Carter Family" album. (Listen to all of the clips and decide if you want the whole album - but definitely get that song!) That covers most (but not all) of Essential Earl Scruggs. You're going to buy all of these anyway so you might as well just do it now. You've been warned!!

Bluegrass fan

RIP Earl. Thanks for everything!

I took Matt6500s advice!

Incredible music from the master banjo player that I was going to buy, but read Matt6500s review below that recommended buying several more albums containing this "collection" to save myself the aggravation of liking the music so much I'd overspend and duplicate in the weeks to come. Great advice! It's an ITunes packaging game. I listened to everything this morning and bought 'em all! See Matt6500s review below and take his advice- I'd tell you the Carter family covers are also a "must buy."


Born: January 6, 1924 in Flint Hill, NC

Genre: Country

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Earl Scruggs was to the five-string banjo what Paganini was to the violin. As part of the Foggy Mountain Boys and later Flatt & Scruggs (both with Lester Flatt), he created the sound of bluegrass and helped bring it to national recognition through radio shows, recordings, television appearances, and concerts. During the '40s, the group added "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" to the bluegrass canon, and during the '50s and '60s, they became the most visible bluegrass act in the country, performing often...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Earl Scruggs

The Essential Earl Scruggs, Earl Scruggs
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