February 5, 2018

The Greenbriar Boys: Best of the Vanguard Years

Vanguard 206/07-2

Format: 2xCD, Album, Compilation
Country: US
Released: 2002
Genre: Folk, World, & Country
Style: Bluegrass
From New Folks (1961)
1-01 Katy Clyne (2:22)
1-02 I'm Coming Back But I Don't Know When (2:19)
1-03 Stewball (2:31)
1-04 Rawhide (2:01)
From Joan Baez Vol. 2 (1961)
1-05 Banks Of The Ohio (3:06)
1-06 Pal Of Mine (2:47)
From The Greenbriar Boys (1962)
1-07 We Shall Not Be Moved (1:45)
1-08 We Need A Lot More Of Jesus (2:00)
1-09 Girl On The Greenbriar Shore (2:20)
1-10 Life Is Like A Mountain Railway (3:37)
1-11 Down The Road (1:58)
1-12 Rosie's Gone Again (2:18)
1-13 Amelia Earhart's Last Flight (3:41)
1-14 Other Side Of Jordan (1:31)
From Ragged But Right! (1964)
2-01 Sleepy-Eyed John (2:37)
2-02 Ragged But Right (2:57)
2-03 McKinley (2:53)
2-04 Leevee Breaking Blues (3:07)
2-05 A Minor Breakdown (2:19)
2-06 Let Me Fall (1:57)
2-07 The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me (2:20)
2-08 At The End Of A Long, Lonely Day (3:41)
2-09 Yellin Holler (2:06)
2-10 I Cried Again (2:56)
From Better Late Than Never (1966)
2-11 The Train That I Ride (2:19)
2-12 I Heard The Bluebirds Sing (2:23)
2-13 Morning Train (2:31)
2-14 Shackles And Chains (2:53)
2-15 Chicken (2:24)
2-16 Alligator Man (2:38)
2-17 Russian Around (2:26)
2-18 Up To My Neck In High Muddy Waters (2:50)
2-19 Little Birdie (2:53)
2-20 Prisoner's Song (2:16)
2-21 Different Drum (3:02)
John Herald (guitar/vocals) Bob Yellin (banjo/harmonica/mandolin/vocals) Ralph Rinzler (guitar/mandolin/vocals) Frank Wakefield (guitar/mandolin/vocals) Joan Baez (vocals) Buddy Pendleton (fiddle) Jackie Cook (bass/vocals) Eric Weissberg (bass) Sandy Block (bass) Russ Savakus (bass) Richard Romoff (bass) Jim Buchanan (fiddle)
Producer: Fred Jasper, Liner Notes: Ed Ward, Designer: Jules Halfant & Amy L. VonHolzhausen, Photographer: Joe Alper & David Gahr, Engineer: David Glasser
This two-CD, 35-song compilation could probably hardly be bettered as a summation of this band's best-recorded work. Disc one focuses on tracks from 1961-1962, including four songs from the 1961 New Folks various-artists compilation, two songs from Joan Baez, Vol. 2 on which they played backup, and eight songs from their proper full-length debut, 1962's The Greenbriar Boys. Though their accent at this time was on traditional songs and covers of bluegrass tunes by the likes of Bill Monroe, this does include "Stewball" (here crediting the band as authors, though different writing credits were used when Peter, Paul & Mary covered it slightly later) and Wayne Raney's sly "We Need a Lot More of Jesus" ("and a lot less rock & roll," goes the end of the couplet when the title is sung on the refrain). Disc two contains 21 songs from their mid-'60s albums Ragged but Right! (1964) and Better Late Than Never! (1966). The first of these was the last to feature the trio lineup of John Herald, Bob Yellin, and Ralph Rinzler. Frank Wakefield replaced Rinzler for Better Late Than Never!, the record that was by far their most contemporary Vanguard effort, with more original material and some very interesting covers, like Floyd Chance's Cajun-flavored "Alligator Man." Far more familiar to rock and pop fans, though, is the original version of Mike Nesmith's "Different Drum," a slower and more whimsical arrangement than that used by the Stone Poneys on their 1967 hit cover of the tune. Linda Ronstadt also covered the Greenbriar Boys' best original song, "Up to My Neck in High Muddy Waters," also originally on Better Late Than Never! (and included on this compilation). As a whole, this is a good survey of a band who did a lot to popularize and preserve traditional bluegrass with skill, as well as take some occasional ventures into progressive directions, not only on the above-mentioned songs, but also on unusual (for bluegrass) Bob Yellin-penned instrumentals like "A Minor Breakdown" and "Russian Around." (AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger)

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