Home Sweet Home
Doc and Merle Watson(SHCD-3889)
Sugar Hill Records, Inc.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Were it not for bass player (and longtime friend of Doc and Merle Watson) T. Michael Coleman, this album would never have seen the light of day. Coleman was reviewing the private tape collection of Doc one day and found a tape of Doc and his late son Merle that had been recorded in December 1967.
Listening to this nearly lost treasure, Coleman suggested adding other players. Doc was enthused at the idea and hand-picked the rest of the cast: Sam Bush on fiddle, Marty Stuart on mandolin, Alan O'Bryant for harmony vocals, and Coleman on bass.
With the help of a computer, Coleman and sound engineer Bill Wolf electronically created space in the songs to add solos for the other player, without compromising or covering the fine playing of Doc and Merle. Thus, we have Home Sweet Home.
Doc and Merle always had a special groove when they recorded together, and Home Sweet Home is no exception. Though Merle had been playing banjo a mere five months, he played with the polish and touch that typifies his guitar work. The editing of the album is a miracle of modern technology, for if you hadn't heard the story of this recording, or read the liner notes, you would think Merle came down from the heavens and into the studio to join the others in one farewell session. The supporting players are a testimony to Doc's good judgment. Marty Stuart shows he can still play bluegrass mandolin with the best of them, evoking memories of his days as a youngster with Lester Flatt's band. O'Bryant blends his voice with Doc's to perfection.
Home Sweet Home is more than just a fine traditional album, more than an interesting use of modern electronic recording technique. For Coleman, it is a labor of love for his late friend Merle.
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Edited by David Schultz
Copyright 1999, Peterborough Folk Music Society. This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.