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Thread: A Progressive Acoustic Fan does a deep dive on Bill Monore

  1. #1
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    Default A Progressive Acoustic Fan does a deep dive on Bill Monore

    This is a fairly simple, broad appreciation of the 4 disk MCA release "The Music of Bill Monroe from 1956 to 1994." This is not a critical review and I will not be criticizing Bill's music AT ALL. I will be taking a few shots at some of the criticisms I have heard of the music I have come to love. I think there is a LOT of common ground. So this is basically a compare and contrast without content criticism.

    First of all, I have been here for a number of years. I am not a player, but I have tried to do a few thought provoking threads. This community has opened many doors to a fan of the Mandolin: Grisman, Reichman and many others. I had certainly heard Monroe before my friend loaned me this collection, but this was my first real immersion.

    The collection includes a lengthy historical overview booklet and the following disks.

    1) 1936 to 1952
    2) 1952 to 1959
    3) 1958 to 1969
    4) 1970 to 1994

    Here are my observations.

    Disks 1 and 4 include a lot of Gospel Music and the vocal styles remind me of Gospel Quartets at times. This is quite different than progressive acoustic. For example, some of Thile's music challenges the almighty, though some are deeply rooted in faith. I really enjoyed these cuts. It's a nice reminder that Gospel used to be more mainstream.

    Disks 1 and 4 include more unison singing, frequently "high lonesome" bluegrass style. In fact, in the early period, Bill didn't sing solo nearly as much as during the two middle eras.

    Having Fun: Especially in the early period, Bill and his boys had a lot of fun with their music. The song about the pines (disk one) has background singers doing sound effects of winds blowing. Some of the falsetto singing is exaggerated and done for affect. This kind of casual play runs in the face of the emphasis of some fans on Monroe as the developer of an art form that shouldn't be touched.

    Speed: Bill could rip that thang. I know that isn't news to anyone here, but on disk one, there is some of the fastest playing mandolin I have ever heard. He could still rip it even during the last era. But during that first period, he seemed to be playing as fast as possible. And given that some of the recordings are live and include audience reactions, it is apparent that people liked fast, even then. Now, I realize that the sound is different between one style sounding like a machine gun and the other sounding like Monroe. But fast is fast.

    Shimmer. It's not a technical term, but it struck me as the basic effect of Monroe's music. Unison falsetto. Double Violins. And that sound of Bill ripping it on the Mandolin. Even the early recordings, where the fidelity is sometimes lacking, the music shines and glows.

    I really enjoyed this collection.

    Are there any other anthologies that cover Bill's whole career? I am going to need to buy one.

  2. #2
    Registered User John Gardinsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Progressive Acoustic Fan does a deep dive on Bill Monore

    Bear Family box set cover his entire studio career.

    http://www.countysales.com/categorie...amily-Box-Sets

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Progressive Acoustic Fan does a deep dive on Bill Monore

    I was not impressed with the song selection on that 4 CD box set by MCA. It seem to lack the really complex songs and the more high lonesome sounds and lacked some of the soul found in the more obsure recordings. With that being said you can't beat all 5 Bear Family Box to really get down and into the soul of Bill Monroe and his bluegrass music.

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    Default Re: A Progressive Acoustic Fan does a deep dive on Bill Monore

    While Bill Monroe was a huge influence to me getting and playing a mandolin I must confess that some of the recordings that I have heard with him are not first class recordings and some of his songs I just cannot stand but that is the same with all bands and performers I guess..I almost throw up when I hear them do "Dog House Blues" what a joke...I have never bought any of his box sets so I can`t comment whats on them, also the recording equipment today is MUCH beter than Bill had years ago....

    Willie

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    Default Re: A Progressive Acoustic Fan does a deep dive on Bill Monore

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    I was not impressed with the song selection on that 4 CD box set by MCA. It seem to lack the really complex songs and the more high lonesome sounds and lacked some of the soul found in the more obsure recordings. With that being said you can't beat all 5 Bear Family Box to really get down and into the soul of Bill Monroe and his bluegrass music.
    Wow! That set was my introduction to Monroe, at a time (a little over a decade ago) when I was just starting to get obsessive about bluegrass. In terms of a career overview, and a good collection of most of his best known standards, I think it's really well done, especially given the price and the accompanying materials. The Bear Family sets are obviously definitive (covering everything he did) but as far as an affordable, more condensed package, I think the MCA set is about as good as you can get.

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    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Progressive Acoustic Fan does a deep dive on Bill Monore

    Quote Originally Posted by kmiller1610 View Post
    The collection includes a lengthy historical overview booklet...

    This is the main reason I recommend this collection to people who are new to Bill Monroe.
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