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Audio CD, September 9, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

John Hartford didn't just bite the hand that fed him; he made it a full-course meal. After Glen Campbell rode Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind" to the top of the charts, Hartford was secure enough to stick his tongue out at the Nashville establishment. His songs offer an almost unparalleled blend of sardonicism and sincerity, a silliness tempered by a respect for musical tradition and beautiful melody. And despite his irreverence, he attracted the best pickers in the business. Norman Blake, Tut Taylor, Vassar Clements, and Randy Scruggs accompany him on this 1971 "newgrass" gem, a spontaneous album that was recorded live in the studio without any arrangements whatsoever. Delicious instrumentals stand by novelties about sex ("Boogie") and drugs ("Holding"), and semiserious diatribes ("Tear Down the Grand Ole Opry") live next to old-time gospel harmonies ("Turn Your Radio On"). Somehow, Aereo-Plain manages to be deeply cynical and emotionally uplifting at the same time. --Marc Greilsamer

1. Turn Your Radio On
2. Steamboat Whistle Blues
3. Back in the Goodle Days
4. Up on the Hill Where They Do the Boogie
5. Boogie
6. First Girl I Loved
7. Presbyterian Guitar
8. With a Vamp in the Middle
9. Symphony Hall Rag
10. Because Of You
11. Steam Powered Aereo Plane
12. Holding
13. Tear Down the Grand Ole Opry
14. Leather Britches
15. Station Break
16. Turn Your Radio On

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 9, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder Select
  • ASIN: B0000002O7
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,731 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Gavin B. on February 28, 2002
Format: Audio CD
"Aero-Plain" has been called the "Revolver" of bluegrass. This 1971 release by John Harford, preceded the Dirtband's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (presumably the "Sargeant Peppers"), by well over a year. "Aero-Plain" is a song cycle which celebrates the rise and fall the old time music subculture. Ironically, Hartford's coda to bluegrass was premature, as "Aero-Plain" found a hip young audience. As a result, bluegrass began to morph into "new-grass" and "progressive" variations for 30 years. Producer David Bromberg had as much to do with the success of "Aero-Plain" as Hartford. Bromberg, a fellow traveller in folk circles, resisted efforts to do second takes, or embellish the tracks with overdubbing. Bromberg captured a pristine sound quality with the freewheeling ambience of a back-porch picking session. Hartford's quirky personna was served well by the lean production values.
The Aeroplane Band assembled by Hartford was astounding line-up of noteable country instrumentalists. Vassar Clements, ex-Bill Monroe fiddler; Norman Blake master of mandolin, dobro and flat-top guitar; and Tut Tyler, legendary innovator of the flat-picked dobro style. Randy Scruggs, normally a lead guitarist, played bass on the "Aero-Plain" session. Hartford moved with suprisingly equal facility between banjo and guitar. The song cycle begins with A.J. Brumley's anthem to old time gospel radio, "Turn Your Radio On".
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ted The Fiddler on August 4, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Well, many here have said it more eloquently than I, but I was a friend of Hartford's, and spoke off and on to many musicians over the past 30 years and every one, including myself, point to this recording as Life Changing. After we all heard this, we stopped being afraid. It's that simple. Sam Bush, Tim O'Brian, Pete Wernick, Tony Trischka, everybody that ever played progressive Bluegrass or New Grass points to this Album as the shining beacon that inspired them to take the risks that lead them to where they are today. I'm still trying to imitate what Vasser was doing on this album 30 years later... It's one of the few Perfect recordings of all time that I can genuinely recommend and say if you don't like it, I'd be absolutely amazed.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Steve Vrana HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 14, 2001
Format: Audio CD
It's hard to believe that this album is now thirty years old--and even harder to believe that John Hartford isn't around any more to make his own brand of good time/old timey/bluegrass/country music.
When this album first came out on Warner Brothers in 1971 (now re-released by Rounder), the listener was confronted with this image of a shaggy hair, bearded hippie with aviator goggles. Don't let the look fool you. Hartford's lifestyle may not have been traditional, but the music contained on this disc is as traditional as his influences, notably fiddler Ed Haley and banjo players Earl Scruggs and Stringbean. And Hartford surrounded himself with like-minded musicians for the album: Norman Blake (guitar, mandolin), Tut Taylor (Dobro), Vassar Clements (fiddle) and Randy Scruggs (bass).
This album has it all--tight harmonies (listen to the gorgeous reading of the gospel number "Turn Your Radio On"), terrific songwriting (Hartford wrote all but the traditional "Leather Britches," "Turn Your Radio On" and "Tear Down the Grand Ole Opry," the latter he co-wrote with Robert Taylor), and wonderful picking throughout. While Hartford plays banjo on most songs, "Presbyterian Guitar" showcases his talents as an accomplished guitar player as well. Sure, "Boogie" is a bit goofy, but that's just John being John. In "Steamboat Whistle Blues" he sings "Bluegrass music is a thing of the past." Hartford helped introduce it to a brand new generation and was a major influence on bands like Newgrass Revival. He also spent the next three decades showing his audience that while bluegrass music was "of the past" it was a viable music force for the future as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 24, 1999
Format: Audio CD
John Hartford has a way of taking us beyond the plastic confines of postmodern America and back to a world of muddy rivers, rolling green hills, and the syncopated rhythm of old fiddlers twisting tunes out of the air and into our consciousness. This album is one of the most original in the bluegrass/old time pantheon. It's one of those rare opportunities to experience first-hand the reflections of a true old soul looking out at an ever "progressing" America, and the silliness with which John tells the story is both delightful and comforting. "Well the city's grown up so it looks all strange like a crossword puzzle on the landscape. Looks like an electric shaver where the court house used to be." Also, First Girl I Loved is one of the prettiest (unrequited) love songs around. These songs are absolute gems to be listened to and admired for years and years. If you don't yet have Aereoplane, do yourself a wonderful favor and get it now. The cover photo alone is worth the price of the CD!
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