The Greenbriar Boys

Dian & the Greenbriar Boys

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Dian & the Greenbriar Boys was originally released in 1963 by Elektra Records but garnered little or no attention at the time from either the public or the emerging urban folk and bluegrass scenes. Dian was Dian James, a cousin of Randy Newman, and her spot fronting the Greenbriar Boys for this album project was always intended as a one-off, and that's exactly what it turned out to be, which was a shame, since James was actually a fine and wonderfully nuanced singer. The album itself was kind of a hybrid -- part bluegrass, part folk, and part country -- with James' impressive vocals hinting at pop possibilities as well. Among the more successful tracks are versions of "Alabama Bound," A.P. Carter's "Cannon Ball Blues," and "Sweet Willie," drawn from a Jean Ritchie melody, but the album as a whole coheres quite well, full of subtle variation from track to track. There are thousands of these kinds of orphaned albums floating around, solid outings that somehow fell through the cracks over the years, being either too odd or too difficult to market, or sometimes just plain blessed with poor timing or straight bad luck. Meanwhile, Dian James might have had herself a singing career had she continued, but she stepped back into the bluegrass night, leaving this intriguing album as a footnote.

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