Bill Monroe / Before the Blues / Charlie Sayles

Ken Ficara ficara@PANIX.COM
Tue Sep 17 00:17:37 EDT 1996

I've never cared much for country music in general but the passing of Bill
Monroe is something to sadden us all.

I was thinking of Monroe this weekend when I listened to my brand new
mail-order arrival, Yazoo's new 3-CD "Before the Blues" series. I'll talk
more about it when I've listened to it enough to begin absorbing individual
songs, but overall it's a great collection. It's interesting that in the
period it documents, there was a much greater interchange between black and
white music than there is now -- they have songs with a black fiddler
playing with a white string band, white country blues singers, black and
white religious music, etc etc etc. It kind of reminds you that Opryland
and the House of Blues aside, both musics once came from rural poor people
who shared more traditions than you'd think from the state of things

The liner notes seem to aim at proving that there was no distinction at all
in black and white music before radio came along but that strikes me as
faintly ridiculous, at least given the amount of African influence you hear
in Lomax's field recordings. But you know Yazoo -- their liner notes/books
are often a little weird (well, a lot weird in the case of the Patton book)
but usually well researched. And the music -- wow.

Also this set is of unusually good sound quality compared to some other
Yazoo re-releases I've heard (I noticed in the catalog that the Charley
Patton set was remastered for CD -- is it noticeably better than the LP,
which is in spots horrible?)

I also just picked up Charlie Sayles' new album (well, newER album), which
is okay, not great, but has some outstanding tracks. None of them, however,
outshine his magnificent tribute to Bill Monroe on his first album.

Two years ago I went to Nashville and went to the Grand Ole Opry out of
obligation. I didn't like it too much, and my one hope -- that I'd get to
see Bill Monroe -- was dashed. He'd played the night before.


Ken Ficara                                    

"Politically, nowadays, all you have to do is stand still and you'll
be ahead of your time." --Laurie Anderson

For more quotes, see:

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