Various Artists

Bluegrass Pride!: 40 Bluegrass Classics

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Jim O’Neal started Rural Rhythm Records in 1955, dedicating the imprint to preserving old-time and bluegrass music, and from the 1950s through the 1970s he released albums by some of the steadiest and most consistent performers in the bluegrass genre, including sides by Mac Wiseman, Don Reno, Red Smiley, Hylo Brown, J.E. Mainer, and many others, and built up a massive back catalog of traditional bluegrass tracks. Rural Rhythm continues to release albums by some of the newer artists in the field, but the label’s bread and butter are cost-efficient collections like this one, a two-disc, 40-track compilation that revisits that vast back catalog. Nothing here is particularly progressive, but traditional sides like Red Smiley's version of “Shady Grove,” Jim Greer's “Black Jack Davey,” Mac Wiseman's “Rovin’ Gambler,” and Hylo Brown's “Wild Bill Jones” show how these modern players took old-time string band material, hit the accelerator, and turned it all into bluegrass.

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