The Country Gentlemen
Sugar Hill Collection

The Country Gentlemen

Written for posting on the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Paul Graham

The Country Gentleman have a long -standing reputation in Bluegrass music.Their name is mentioned in the same breath as Bill Monroe ,The Stanley Brothers,and Flatt & Scruggs,as the originators of todays bluegrass sound.While Monroe wanted to preserve the sound of his music,the country Gentlemen moved on.

The collection is made up from two albums previously released on Sugar Hill, till now not released on CD; "River Bottom" and "Sit Down Young Stranger." The two albums have slightly different personnel. "Sit Down Young Stranger," the excellent Doyle Lawson on mandolin and vocals, James bailey on banjo, and the ubiquitous Mike Auldridge on Dobro. "On River Bottom" it's Rick Aldred on mandolin and Kent Dowell on banjo.These are alongside Gentlemen regulars Chrlie Waller (Guitar&vocals)& Bill Yates -vocals. Doyle Lawson is a real favourite of mine, but I was pleasantly suprised by the talents of Rick Aldred,filling the shoes of Doyle ,when he left the Gents to go solo and form Quicksilver.

The Gentlemen have this talent for taking folk and popular songs and making them sound as if they'd been written specially for bluegrass. Most of the songs are like that, with one or two by veteran bluegrass musicians, like Don Stover's "Things in Life", and Ralph Stanley's "I'm Lonesome Without You", and one by Dolly Parton, "God's Colouring Book" (She's bluegrass isn't she). This track has much tasteful dobro from Mike Auldridge, and the usual tasteful harmonies. Very impressive though is the general driving quality of the gentlemen's playing .This is how bluegrass should sound.

The collection is very well recorded .It's good value,with the two albums released on one CD. This is a very good way to have people listen to music they might have missed when it came out first time around,especially as the interest in bluegrass seems to be on the rise.In this vein,I would say that the the liner notes are a bit lacking.

I would have liked to see more detailed liner notes about the band. Since this is a very accessible collection for non-initiated people and for those who didn't buy the albums first time around, a little about the band's illustrious history would have been helpful.

All in all, this is an excellent look into the more recent output of this great band.

Copyright Three Rivers Folklife Society,1995.

This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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