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Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off the Record Volume 1

Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off the Record Volume 1

October 8, 1993
4.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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  • Sample this album
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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: October 8, 1993
  • Release Date: October 8, 1993
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
  • Copyright: (C) 1995 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
  • Total Length: 1:14:32
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B000S9C5CO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,774 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kelley Moss on May 3, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I knew I liked the bluegrass sound, but I didn't own any... so on a whim I found this CD in a store. I bought it because I thought I recognized the name, and it did have more songs than most. That was four years ago and I still think of it as one of the best purchases I've ever made. If you like the mandolin and high old time sound... then you must have this CD!! It's over an hour of the best bluegrass ever recorded, and the information in the cover/recorded interview with Bill (#27. Monroe Family Segment) really let you get a chance to know the man.
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A treasure trove of rare Monroe performances, from various folk fests and concerts. For the most part these live renditions don't capture the full intensity of Monroe's music, but there's certainly not a bad cut on this album. The best bit, though, is a track called "Monroe Family Segment," which consists of Q&A dialogs with fans and festival moderators asking Monroe to explain his techniques and how he learned them from various family members... Interesting in and of itself, but also a great glimpse at Bill's rapport with his fans.
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I have gotten myself into bluegrass lately even though I'm not new to it either. I grew up hearing bluegrass music on television like the Beverly Hillbillies, Hee Haw and the Dukes of Hazzard. However, I always wanted to learn more about Bill Monroe and his music. The music on this CD is of course authentic, traditional bluegrass. I highly recommend this to any bluegrass and even non-bluegrass listener. I would like to see America get back to its music roots. We are losing it with the non substance music we hear today.
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It is pretty hard for me to think that there would be a Bill Montroe recording of any kind that isn't worth ten stars on these ratings. To be sure, if you dont already have a lot of his music and don't know much, you are not sure what to get, if you cannot afford all of it.

However, this is must-have music. The recording studio has captured Bill's greatness to be sure. Yet, Bluegrass is like many other musics, it is never the same live as it is recorded. Monroe's mandolin playing, in particular, is frequently responsive to and often quite competitive with, what other players are doing, so that even on songs you may have recorded, even on standards like Rawhide, there are surprises on this record for even the most seasoned Monroe fan. Likewise, Bluegrass is an improvisational music, a half sister to jazz. So the freedom to pick on stage until the picking has been done to Big Mon's satisfaction brings more music by all, but particularly by Monroe than what happens when the music has to be fit into a three-minute recording.

Ralph Rinzler whose labor of love to traditional music brought us Tom Ashley and Dock Watson and who took over management of the Bluegrass Boys and became one for a time, put together these recordings. He is careful not to simply repeat recordings, but at the same time to give you unique versions of standard tunes. He also gives you Monroe in different settings over the years. We hear him doing a live show in a small Southern town in the 1950s, we hear him at the first Bluegrass festival ever, we hear him sitting around a living room with ace players in all-night picking party featuring a duel with Hazel Dickens.
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No one artist will ever be missed more by me than Bill Monroe. As a teenager back in the early 80's, before the corporate mentality took over bluegrass, Bill was out there burning things up. Nothing in this world will ever mean as much to me as watching Bill perform "My Last Days On Earth" live at Bean Blossom in 1983. His name is synonymous with people like Louis Armstrong, Robert Johnson, Elvis and Roy Acuff due to his guiding influence.

What is found on this disc are two phases of Bill's career. The first is the mid to late 50's when rock n roll was gaining popularity and country artists were plugging in to keep pace. Bill, ever the purist to what he'd created and being his typical hard headed self, refused to put any band on the road that carried an electirc instrument. It was during this era that gigs were hard to come by for "hillbilly" music. That doesn't in any way take awy from these perfomances however. Bill and crew were at the top of thier respective game and the delivery is completely flawless. Ed Mayfield is the guitarist and lead singer on several of these cuts. The toure de force he turns in on Blue Yodel # 5 alone is jaw dropping. Also included is a guest spot with Don Reno playing banjo on Bluegrass Stomp, with Bill providing some of the spookiest, blusiest playing ever to be heard.

The second phase is equally impressive featuring the likes of Richard Greene, Pete Rowan, Bill Kieth (introduced as Brad because Monroe was to be the only Bill on stage) and Tex Logan. It was at this time that Ralph Rinzler had begun managing Monroe's career and a resulting rennisance was underway, which in no small way helped Bill attract younger, more progressive pickers.
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