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Whiskey Before Breakfast

26 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 30, 2009
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Editorial Reviews



Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 30, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder
  • ASIN: B0000002D4
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,664 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

5 star
96%
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4%
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Finn on March 31, 1999
Format: Audio CD
For many of us, Norman Blake is the consummate old-time musician. Sure, Doc Watson gets more publicity, and Tony Rice is smooth and powerful, but no artist comes closer to the tone and character of old-time music than Norman. This recording has been on my 'frequent play' list for over four years, and I'm not shelving it any time soon. For you intermediate to advanced flatpickers, this is like the Jane Fonda Workout - I've never met a flatpicker who hadn't tried to keep up with Norman while listening to this record. Fingerpickers can also delight - tasteful versions of "The Ash Grove" and "The Minstrel Boy to War Has Gone" are here as well. 5 stars really doesn't do this one justice.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 1, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Acoustic guitar whiz Norman Blake started off as a bluegrass prodigy in the late 1950s, and flatpicked his way across numerous albums in the 1960s and '70s, particularly as a session guitarist on albums by Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, and as frequent collaborator in John Hartford's various bands. This is one of his best-known solo records from the 'Seventies, a typically understated, flawless set of stripped-down, nostalgic old-timey acoustic numbers, with Blake playing solo and accompanied by a sympathetic secod guitar. There are plenty of Vaudeville and Southern-themed songs on here, including ditties such as "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane," "Arkansas Traveler" and "Old Gray Mare," music that the entertainment industry -- in all its areas -- had long since turned its back on. Blake breathes life back into these old standards, taking each song at his leisure while crooning in his thin, smooth old-mannish voice. For fans of great music, simply and elegantly performed, this is hard to beat. Plus, the guy's a world-class ace flatpicker -- folks who actually "get" what he's doing on guitar will be amazed.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Buford M. Bell on November 27, 2002
Format: Audio CD
i don't actually own this album on cd; yet. i have the album, that i got unknowingly when i found my parents record collection in our basement a few years ago. well i finally got a turntable; today, listened to the album 2 times all the way through, and i was spellbound.
i play guitar, and when even a non-musician hears the musicianship on this album, they should be spellbound. Norman plays with this intense fortitude; as is shown on tracks such as:
'sleepy eyed joe/indian creek' and 'church st. blues'. norman blake has to be one of the most underrated guitarists in all of music.
i also love the sound of this album. it is recorded in a way that an independent album would be. there are no instruments except norman voice and his guitar(and this guitarist named charled collins). the album also has that wholesome feel; that you could just tap your feet, or sing along to it.
i would recommend this album for people who love downhome music, and traditional music. and also to people who are into traditional bluegrass guitar; believe me norman blake is one of the best, and this album proves it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 25, 2001
Format: Audio CD
....everything changes. I have played acoustic guitar for 35+ years, and to put it bluntly, this music puts me, and most other acoustic guitarists to shame. No disrespect meant to anyone out there, believe me, I know how hard you've worked at it, but if you enjoy traditional acoustic guitar then give Norman Blake a chance, and you will never go back. Closest players, in the same league are Doc Watson and Dan Crary, a very elite group. Money well spent, you won't be sorry. God bless and long live a underappreciated national treasure, Norman Blake.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Remember vinyl LP's?? I wore out two vinyl copies of this album, and I'm one of those compulsive record geeks who cleans records each time, stores them properly, etc.
Norman Blake has a feel for traditional music, from the rousing martial-like "Under the Double Eagle" to the gentle "Ash Grove" and "The Minstrel Boy."
The only drawback to this album would be if you yourself play guitar. It'll make you weep. ("I'll never be able to do that...")
As far as the vocals go, they are absolutely in keeping with the style of the music. (Another reviewer slammed the vocals; hey, Billie Holiday's voice was raspy and annoying at times, but no one would ever say it didn't deliver the goods.)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By frankp93 VINE VOICE on January 26, 2007
Format: Audio CD
A lot of Blake fans consider "Live At McCabes" their favorite but, as good as the playing is there, for me the live guitar sound lacks warmth and "woodiness". "Whiskey Before Breakfast" is what a big old Martin steel string should sound like.

Norman doesn't play too much of this "fast stuff" anymore, but his lines still have a driving forward motion to them that make even the fastest tunes here, like "Salt Creek", sound relaxed and effortless. I always wished he'd do a fingerpicking record as I think he's underrated in that regard. "Down At Milow's House" has a parlor-classical poise to it that almost reminds me of John Renbourn. I was familiar with his duet with Bromberg on "Arkansas Traveller" first before hearing this solo version.

The overall technique of younger players and the amount of educational information on flatpicking has exploded since this record came out in the 70's. But for my money, few can touch it for pure soul.

One thing has always intrigued me: In the liner notes Nancy Blake mentions a "ebony nut" among the features of Norman's D-18. However, from the pictures on the sleeve at least, the nut on that guitar sure looks like bone or some white composite rather than ebony. I know they use ebony for violin nuts and I've seen wooden nuts on old bowlback mandolins, but I've never come across a "modern" guitar with one. I wonder if she was referring to the bridge base, which looks like it could be ebony and probably would have some impact on the tone.
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