Essential Earl Scruggs

Essential Earl Scruggs

5.0 1
by Earl Scruggs

For an artist with as long and storied a recording career as Earl Scruggs, a two-disc Essential set seems a bit slight. But, in fact, this collection is a tasty, 40-cut overview that captures the variety of this towering banjo man's contributions to contemporary country and popular music. Disc 1 breaks down into selections from the '40s and '50s, when ScruggsSee more details below


For an artist with as long and storied a recording career as Earl Scruggs, a two-disc Essential set seems a bit slight. But, in fact, this collection is a tasty, 40-cut overview that captures the variety of this towering banjo man's contributions to contemporary country and popular music. Disc 1 breaks down into selections from the '40s and '50s, when Scruggs was pointing the way toward the future, first as a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys (a period represented here by three cuts from 1946-47), then in his scintillating partnership with guitarist/vocalist Lester Flatt and their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys. This latter incarnation is well documented, with monuments on the order of 1949's "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"; another awesome breakdown from 1959, "Pike Mountain Breakdown"; the irresistible "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms"; a touching rendition of A. P. Carter's "Jimmie Brown, The Newsboy"; and the incendiary instrumental blowout, 1950's "Shuckin' the Corn," on which Scruggs and his mates' speed-picking dexterity remains jaw dropping. Disc 2 surveys the '60s and '70s and features ample samplings of the groundbreaking work Scruggs did with his sons Randy and Gary in the Earl Scruggs Review, as well as choice pairings with artists such as Mother Maybelle Carter, on a mesmerizing version of A.P.'s "Foggy Mountain Top," and Ricky Skaggs, on a heartfelt reading of "We'll Meet Again," one of a handful of '80s tracks here. Yes, the studio version of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" is included (it's slower than the TV theme song, for those to whom such distinctions matter), and Johnny Cash joins Earl, Randy, and Gary for a rustic take on his beautiful "I Still Miss Someone," from 1975. Music this deep and soulful never grows old.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Zac Johnson
"The Paganini of the banjo"'s finest moments are collected on Columbia/Legacy's aptly named Essential Earl Scruggs. Unlike many other "best-of" collections, this two-disc set gathers tracks from nearly all of the stages of Scruggs' career, from his early days as one of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, through his genre-defining work with Lester Flatt, and a sampling of his solo career, including his appearances with Hylo Brown, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and leading his own Earl Scruggs Revue. Informative liner notes by historian Rich Kienzle, banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, and Scruggs himself illustrate the man behind the fingers, and the recording quality of the music is clear and consistent throughout. Hearing all of this pickin' in one place really reminds the listener how vital Scruggs was in popularizing the sound of bluegrass in the '40s, '50s, and '60s, and his innovations through the '70s and '80s. While stronger collections of Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe recordings are available, none showcase the man behind the banjo as completely as this fine compilation does.

Product Details

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Disc 1

  1. Heavy Traffic Ahead
  2. It's Mighty Dark to Travel  -  Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
  3. Molly and Tenbrooks (The Race Horse Song)  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  4. Down the Road  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  5. Foggy Mountain Breakdown  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  6. Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  7. Old Salty Dog Blues  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  8. Pike Country Breakdown  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  9. Come Back Darling  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  10. Don't Get Above Your Raising  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  11. Jimmie Brown, The Newsboy  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  12. Earl's Breakdown  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  13. Get in Line Brother  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  14. Dear Old Dixie  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  15. Flint Hill Special  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  16. Foggy Mountain Chimes  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  17. Till the End of the World Rolls Round  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  18. Foggy Mountain Special  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  19. Randy Lynn Rag  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  20. Shuckin' the Corn  -  Foggy Mountain Boys

Disc 2

  1. John Henry  -  Timberliners
  2. Cumberland Gap  -  Timberliners
  3. Cripple Creek  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  4. Reuben  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  5. Sally Goodwin  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  6. Foggy Mountain Top  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  7. Georgia Buck  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  8. John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  9. The Ballad of Jed Clampett  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  10. Nashville Skyline Rag  -  Foggy Mountain Boys
  11. Nashville Blues
  12. I Saw the Light
  13. Some of Shelley's Blues
  14. Peking Fling
  15. I Shall Be Released
  16. Stash It
  17. Song of the South
  18. I Still Miss Someone
  19. We'll Meet Again Sweetheart
  20. American-Made World-Played

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Earl Scruggs   Primary Artist,Banjo,Baritone (Vocal)
Norman Blake   Dobro
Lester Flatt   Guitar,Vocals
Josh Graves   Dobro,Guitar
Bill Monroe   Mandolin,Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
Johnny Cash   Guitar,Vocals
Rosanne Cash   Background Vocals
Rodney Crowell   Background Vocals
Tom T. Hall   Vocals
Benny Martin   Fiddle
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band   Vocals
Oak Ridge Boys   Background Vocals
Paul Warren   Fiddle
Doc Watson   Guitar
Linda Ronstadt   Vocals
Bonnie Bramlett   Background Vocals
Grady Martin   Guitar
Chubby Wise   Fiddle
Hylo Brown   Guitar,Vocals
John McEuen   Banjo
Mother Maybelle Carter   Autoharp
Byron Berline   Fiddle,Background Vocals
Ron Bledsoe   Organ,Harpsichord
Clyde Brooks   Drums
Kenny Buttrey   Drums
Jerry Carrigan   Drums
Charlie Daniels   12-string Guitar
Chip Young   Rhythm Guitar
Vassar Clements   Fiddle
Shane Keister   Keyboards
Bobby Dyson   Bass
Jimmie Fadden   Harp
Jeff Hanna   Washboard
Buddy Harman   Drums
Bobby Hicks   Fiddle
Karl Himmel   Drums
Teddy Irwin   Rhythm Guitar
Jerry Kroon   Drums
Everett Lilly   Mandolin
Ralph Mooney   Steel Guitar
Farrell Morris   Percussion
Mark O'Connor   Fiddle,Guitar,Mandolin
Ron Oates   Keyboards
Gary Scruggs   Bass,Harmonica,Electric Bass,Vocals
Randy Scruggs   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Background Vocals,12-string Guitar
Steve Scruggs   Keyboards
Curly Seckler   Mandolin,Tenor (Vocal)
Gene Sisk   Piano
Henry Strzelecki   Bass
Clarence "Tater" Tate   Fiddle
Paul Uhrig   Bass
Howard Watts   String Bass
Charlie McCoy   Harmonica
Bob Moore   Bass,String Bass
Jack Shook   Rhythm Guitar
Art Wooten   Fiddle
Red Rector   Mandolin
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis   Drums,Background Vocals
Louis Innis   Rhythm Guitar
Jake Tullock   String Bass
Jody Rainwater   String Bass
William Paul Ackerman   Drums
Johnny Lee "Jaimoe" Johnson   Rhythm Guitar
Bob & Pauline Wilson   Piano
Stacey Belson   Vocals
Arloff Boguslavaki   Vocals
Howdy Foster   Fiddle
Junior Husky   Bass

Technical Credits

Lester Flatt   Composer
Bill Monroe   Composer
Earl Scruggs   Arranger,Composer
Johnny Cash   Composer
Bob Dylan   Composer
Michael Nesmith   Composer
Charlie Monroe   Composer
Art Satherley   Producer
Ron Bledsoe   Producer
A.P. Carter   Composer
Béla Fleck   Liner Notes
Buck Graves   Composer
Bob Johnston   Producer
Frank Jones   Producer
Don Law   Producer
Bob McDill   Composer
William McEuen   Producer
Murray Nash   Producer
Hank Williams   Composer
Rich Kienzle   Liner Notes
Wiley Morris   Composer
Zeke Morris   Composer
Norman Seeff   Cover Photo
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Vic Anesini   Mastering
Gladys Stacey   Composer
Roy Cash   Composer
Louise Certain   Composer
John Thompson   Producer
Traditional   Composer
Mark Unterberger   Packaging Manager
Paul Henning   Composer
Ron Beldsoe   Producer
Robert Radnitz   Producer

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