Featuring an excellent cross section of tracks from the definitive 1945-1949 period, The Early Years charts Bill Monroe's evolving sound through Western swing-influenced pieces, waltzes, blues, spirituals, ballads, and instrumentals. Though there are definitely far more comprehensive collections on the market, and the tracks here aren't particularly rare, The Early Tapes does a good job of representing Monroe's early recordings, the inclusion of Flatt & Scruggs, and the period following their departure. The material included is first rate, with "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Toy Heart," and the sharp "Blue Grass Breakdown" among the 14 tracks included. Good liner notes also make this an excellent introductory collection.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Fink