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The Early Years 1957-1958

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Album Review

Bill Clifton was one of bluegrass' finest guitarists and also an underrated vocalist. He was especially gripping on slow, aching tunes like "Lonely Heart Blues" or gospel numbers like "I'm Living the Right Life Now" and "When You Kneel at Your Mother's Grave." Clifton's late-'50s singles were collected on this CD, featuring him working alongside such musicians as Curley Lambert on mandolin and Johnny Clark on banjo, as well as fiddler Tommy Jackson, Ralph Stanley on banjo, and Gordon Terry on fiddle. These songs are light-years away from the polished, intricate newgrass and contemporary bluegrass sounds of the 1980s and '90s. The harmonies, leads, solos, and arrangements reflect simpler, more innocent times, but don't lack intensity or musical quality.


Born: 1931 in Riderwood, MD

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

If you attend a bluegrass festival, thank Bill Clifton for having the idea to present the very first one. Clifton was not the most famous of the first generation of bluegrass artists, but he did much to establish the idea of bluegrass as a preserver of half-forgotten songs and styles. Clifton's background was hardly a typical one for bluegrass -- although the players who would populate the distinctive Washington, D.C., bluegrass scene often shared Clifton's professional background. He was born William...
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The Early Years 1957-1958, Bill Clifton
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