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Keep On Going: The Rebel & Melodeon Recordings

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Album Review

While it's common, and perhaps unfair, to judge new music against classics from yesteryear, the process is inevitable. It's the handful of recordings by a handful of artists that serve as touchstones for everything that follows, and remind reviewers, critics, and listeners just how far many new artists have to go. The early- to mid- '60s recordings that Red Allen made for Rebel and Melodeon fit into that rare category, qualifying as fabulous bluegrass that also serves as an acid test to post-millennium purveyors of jazzed-up mountain music. Many factors — great pickers, good material — work toward the overall effect, but the secret ingredient on Keep on Going is Allen's ability to inject everything he touches with lots of country soul. There's nothing particularly special about the lyric of "I Don't Know Why," but Allen's lead, and his harmony with Wayne Yates on the chorus, turn each line into a sad refrain that reaches down deep. The cuts with brothers Billy and Wayne Yates, in particular, sound as old-timey as 1946, while the earlier material with mandolinist Frank Wakefield combines old-timey singing with cutting-edge instrumental work. Keep on Going reminds listeners that while bluegrass certainly benefits from instrumental proficiency and smoothly blended harmony, the truly great musicians fill their music with a depth of feeling and inspiration. Allen's work will also remind listeners how bluegrass was made back in the old days, and teach aspiring musicians exactly what it takes to make a classic. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Biography

Born: February 12, 1930 in Hazard, KY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s

With a high lonesome sound heavily influenced by Bill and Charlie Monroe, Red Allen quietly took his place as one of the most talented and underrated bluegrass artists of the post-World War II era. Born in Perry County, KY, he later made his mark not far from there, first landing in Dayton, OH, at the age of 19 in 1949 after a two-year stint in the Marines. In Ohio, he became acquainted with several other musicians whom he would later collaborate with, including Frank Wakefield, the Osborne Brothers...
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Keep On Going: The Rebel & Melodeon Recordings, Red Allen
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