In 1972, New Grass Rival released their debut record taking Bluegrass music where it had never gone before…or…at least where it came from. They added the Jazz elements back into the bluegrass sound creating a form of progressive bluegrass music. The band in 1972, consisted of mandolin and fiddle player Sam Bush, banjoist Courtney Johnson, guitarist and Dobro player Curtis Burch and upright bassist Ebo Walker.
I purchased this cassette tape in Nashville back in the early 1990’s. I had heard of this band from their second lineup in the 1980’s which was more progressive than bluegrass music. But when I pop this tape into my walkman, and heard the opening track, I was blown away for several reasons. The first, was the fast tempos and certain offbeats that are used. Secondly, the harmony and melody of the entire record. It was like almost listening to rock music of the day. Thirdly, the feel of the music being so close to you. And finally, the raw energy that was created. This wasn’t your standard bluegrass record of the day.
The song structures are very good. Each song is different, meaning you wont find many of the filler music within the album. The banjo sounds great. The guitar and Dobro portions are wonderful. The bass and fiddle work is amazing. The vocal work is unlike modern bluegrass and based more upon tradition. Listen to “Body and Soul.” The entire album was done well, giving you a feeling that the music is played live.
1.”Pennies In My Pocket”
3.”I Wish I Said (I Love You One More Time)”
4.”Prince of Peace”
6.”Whisper My Name”
7.”Great Balls of Fire”
8.”Lonesome Fiddle Blues”
9.”Body and Soul”
10.”With Care From Someone