The Country Gentlemen

Going Back to the Blue Ridge Mountains

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Originally released on Folkways in 1973, Going Back to the Blue Ridge Mountains captures 16 songs performed live by the "classic" Country Gentlemen. The circumstances surrounding this recording are shady; the location is unknown, and the date is speculated to be somewhere in the mid-'60s. Whenever and wherever this disc was made, the sound quality is sharp and the folks in the crowd, whoever they are, sound like they're having a good time. The songs themselves are somewhat tame compared to the progressive bluegrass this group is generally known for; signature tunes such as "Two Little Boys" are missing and a host of bluegrass standards like "Tom Dooley," "Cripple Creek," and "Mary Dear" make up the bulk of the recording. But if the track listing is nothing to write home about, the Country Gentlemen certainly do these songs justice. John Duffey is in top form here, cracking jokes ("For those folks who've just arrived, we're the Country Gentlemen -- better known as the Beatles of the Stone Age") and plucking up a storm on his mandolin. Seeing how the group's signature work isn't represented here, Going Back probably isn't the best entry point for newcomers to the Country Gentlemen's catalog. But tracks like "Dark as a Dungeon," "Electricity," and "I Saw the Light" all offer excellent reasons for fans to mosey through this reissue, if only because the Country Gentlemen sound like they're having such a great time.

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