The Country Gentlemen

The Early Rebel Recordings 1962-1971

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AllMusic Review by

This is an especially pleasing four-CD set, comprising most of the Country Gentlemen's recordings for the Rebel label over a period of nine years, when they used bluegrass music as a vehicle for innovation by way of country, folk, and rock. The influence of the Osborne Brothers can be heard throughout their early work (along with more mainstream country sources), but then they start cutting Dylan and Tom Paxton songs. The odd early individual tracks lead into the contents of the Bringing Mary Home album, which established their reputation nationally as a bluegrass act to be reckoned with. Disc One ends with the controversial "Big Bruce," a gay parody of Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John" that skirts a fine line between satire, burlesque, and slur. Disc Two features several previously unissued songs, and also shows the group growing artistically amid a flurry of concert activity -- a surprising number of songs from this period were cut on the fly at semi-pro and improvised studios, as the band fit recording in anywhere they could. Disc Three picks up in 1969 -- the group by this time was freely adapting popular as well as folk tunes, thus the presence of "Mrs. Robinson" amid the bluegrass standards. By Disc Four, the group was nearing a summit of popularity and creativity. The irony was that, even as they were achieving success, the group was nearing a decision to leave Rebel. This collection isn't quite ideal, since it is missing a key mid-'60s live recording; the booklet and annotation are very thorough, as is the session information, all of it pitched at the Bear Family level.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:09 Amazon
2 2:17 Amazon
3
2:38 Amazon
4 2:33 Amazon
5 2:24 Amazon
6 2:34 Amazon
7 3:36 Amazon
8 2:59 Amazon
9 2:35 Amazon
10 3:00 Amazon
11 2:38 Amazon
12 3:00 Amazon
13 2:29 Amazon
14 1:46 Amazon
15 2:48 Amazon
16 2:58 Amazon
17 2:16 Amazon
18
1:54 Amazon
19 3:42 Amazon
20 2:14 Amazon
21 1:25 Amazon
22 1:51 Amazon
23 1:49 Amazon
24 2:28 Amazon
25 3:26 Amazon
26 2:18 Amazon
27 3:32 Amazon
28 2:48 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:58 Amazon
2 2:06 Amazon
3 2:42 Amazon
4 2:51 Amazon
5 3:20 Amazon
6 2:34 Amazon
7 2:18 Amazon
8 2:31 Amazon
9 3:47 Amazon
10 3:12 Amazon
11
1:57 Amazon
12 2:47 Amazon
13 2:41 Amazon
14
3:00 Amazon
15 2:01 Amazon
16 2:32 Amazon
17 2:08 Amazon
18 2:41
19 1:48 Amazon
20 2:25 Amazon
21 2:40 Amazon
22 2:57 Amazon
23 3:11 Amazon
24 2:29 Amazon
25 2:41 Amazon
26
2:40 Amazon
27 2:20 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:55 Amazon
2 2:30 Amazon
3 2:36 Amazon
4 2:51 Amazon
5 2:22 Amazon
6 3:22 Amazon
7 2:31 Amazon
8
4:02 Amazon
9 2:11 Amazon
10 1:45 Amazon
11 3:10 Amazon
12 2:51 Amazon
13 3:10 Amazon
14 3:03 Amazon
15
2:54 Amazon
16 2:06 Amazon
17 2:57 Amazon
18 2:54 Amazon
19 2:55 Amazon
20 2:11 Amazon
21
2:56 Amazon
22 1:56 Amazon
23
2:28 Amazon
24
2:30 Amazon
25 1:40 Amazon
26 2:20 Amazon
27 2:12 Amazon
28 3:08 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:00 Amazon
2 2:15 Amazon
3 3:20 Amazon
4 3:37 Amazon
5 2:34 Amazon
6 2:32 Amazon
7
3:13 Amazon
8 3:10 Amazon
9 2:22 Amazon
10 1:55 Amazon
11 2:51 Amazon
12
3:09 Amazon
13 3:16 Amazon
14 2:59 Amazon
15 2:31 Amazon
16 2:31
17 2:38 Amazon
18 3:06 Amazon
19 2:04 Amazon
20 2:23 Amazon
21 2:40 Amazon
22
3:04 Amazon
23
2:55 Amazon
24 2:23 Amazon
25 3:34 Amazon
26 3:00 Amazon
27 2:13 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick