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Essential Bluegrass Gospel

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Album Review

This collection of Lester Flatt's best bluegrass-gospel recordings is quite nice. Despite the fact that he and his pickin' partner in crime, Earl Scruggs, had gone their separate ways by the time these tracks were recorded (1976-1981), Flatt always surrounded himself with some terrific players. This collection serves as a showcase not only for his fine guitar playing and capable voice, but also for Kenny Ingram's bright banjo picking, Curly Seckler's mandolin playing, Betty Jean Robinson's amiable Dolly Parton impression, and a fresh-faced mandolin player named Marty Stuart. The song choices are a little out of the norm, with "Little Brown Church," "I'll Fly Away," and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" being a few of the more familiar tracks, but the couple of Flatt originals and the remainder of the lesser-known tracks all fit nicely alongside them. The terrific thing about bluegrass-gospel is that the passion and musicianship can be appreciated without bringing any religious beliefs into it, and although the songs all revolve around the Christian faith, any fan of acoustic American music would be foolish to dismiss this on principle alone.


Born: 19 June 1914 in Overton County, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

After Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs parted ways in 1969, Flatt reassembled many of the Foggy Mountain Boys, renamed the group Nashville Grass, and toured very successfully until his death in 1979. Unlike Scruggs, who with his sons moved on to music that was only marginally country, Flatt and the Grass stuck to traditional bluegrass material. Even without Scruggs, the...
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