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Together Again

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Album Review

Banjoist Don Reno and guitarist/lead singer Red Smiley formed a formidable bluegrass duo from the early '50s until they amiably went their separate ways in 1964. In 1971 the duo's paths crossed once again, leading to the recording of Together Again, a little gem of an album. At a little over 30 minutes, the album will seem a bit short by 2006's standards (though lots of bluegrass groups still record 30- to 45-minute albums), but fans, glad to have it on vinyl in 1971, will be glad to have it out again on CD. The recording is real old-school, meaning the recording is mono and that even with modern polishing, screechy high notes remain. For people who like their bluegrass rough around the edges, however, these shortcomings complement Reno & Smiley's mountain style: Together Again is shot through with authenticity. If the album has a real weakness, it's that best tracks — "Highway 52," "A Dime Looks Like a Wagon Wheel," and "Emotions" — are frontloaded. It's also interesting to note the inclusion of "Soldier's Last Letter," an old pro-war song proudly played by Reno & Smiley as the Vietnam War raged on. Today, however, Together Again will be cherished for its bluesy bluegrass, fancy picking, and fine country harmonies. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Born: 1924 in Spartanburg, SC

Genre: Country

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

Virtually unrivalled among his contemporaries for his mastery of the five-string banjo, Don Reno teamed with Red Smiley to create some of the finest bluegrass recordings of the postwar era -- a superb tenor vocalist and songwriter, Reno also proved crucial to the emergence of the guitar as one of bluegrass' lead instruments, and ranks alongside the likes of Bill Monroe among the genre's true pioneers. Reno was born in Spartanburg, SC, on February 21, 1926, and raised primarily in rural North Carolina;...
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