The Seldom Scene made a series of landmark albums in the early- to mid-'70s that climaxed with Live at the Cellar Door, a glorious set of 23 songs from the band's broad repertoire. To those familiar with the band's earlier albums, classic pieces like "Rider," "City of New Orleans," and "Small Exception of Me" will be familiar. The initiated will also know that these songs sound just as fabulous live, and that no one would want to miss the seven-minute version of "Rider." A number of tasty items also make their debut here. Mandolinist John Duffey sings a lovely version of Dylan's "Baby Blue," while guitarist John Starling offers a sterling take of Carter Stanley's "The Fields Have Turned Brown." The band's spacious sound, with Tom Gray's ever-present bass and Mike Auldridge's ringing dobro, reproduces well in a live setting. Likewise, the Seldom Scene's trademark three-part harmony looses nothing outside of the more rarified air of the studio. The group, it should be noted, also has a keen sense of humor. The band's old-timey parody of "Hit Parade of Love" is guaranteed to offend anyone addicted to the high-pitched, whiney brand of traditional bluegrass. As if to make up for such effrontery, respectful renditions of "Georgia Rose" and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" are also offered. Arguably, the Seldom Scene never got any better than this. Live at the Cellar Door is a progressive bluegrass classic, and sounds as fresh and alive today as it did in 1975.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.