There is very little in the world quite like a good, live bluegrass album, and this is as good as it gets. The album was recorded in 1973 at the seventh annual Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival in Bean Blossom, IN, and features, alongside Monroe, most of the greats of early bluegrass, still kicking in the 1970s-Jim and Jesse, Jimmy Martin, James Monroe, Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass, and 12 of the period's greatest fiddlers. The only notably absent figures of the classic bluegrass canon are the Stanley Brothers and Earl Scruggs; Carter Stanley died in 1966, and Scruggs, who had recently broken from Flatt to pursue more "modern" sounds in bluegrass music, was still getting the silent treatment from Monroe for leaving his Bluegrass Boys in the first place. Curly Ray Cline, Clarence "Tater" Tate, Tex Logan, Kenny Baker, and the other eight fiddlers play simultaneously on three instrumental standards, "Soldier's Joy," "Grey Eagle," and "Down Yonder," backing Monroe on the album's final track, a lively and unforgettable "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." The music is played, for the most part, at a tightly reined turbo speed and, along with the steady claps and yells and sure-enough screams of an enormously rowdy audience, makes for about the most exciting 75 minutes of music imaginable. Bean Blossom captures the true, original spirit of the music created by Monroe as much or more than any other album, and provides a sturdy backbone to any bluegrass collection.
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AllMusic Review by Burgin Mathews