Tennessee guitarist and singer Lester Flatt and North Carolina banjo whiz Earl Scruggs had the best bluegrass band going between 1948 and 1969, and the duo's hyperkinetic approach became the template for the overdriven sound that most people still think of when they think of bluegrass. After breaking away from Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs formed the influential Foggy Mountain Boys and signed with Mercury Records, recording 28 tracks, including classics "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms," and "Salty Dog Blues," between 1948 and 1951 before leaving for Columbia Records. All of those 28 Mercury recordings are here, and while Flatt & Scruggs got slicker (relatively), faster, and definitely better known into the 1960s, they arguably never really improved on these initial sides. The Mercury material is available in several packages, and this one from Proper is as good as any, but the bottom line is that any serious bluegrass fan needs to have these tracks. This is where contemporary bluegrass begins.
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