Guitarist-singer Larry Keel originally turned critics and fans' heads with his fancy flatpicking. Others know him from his work from with the Larry Keel Experience, a progressive outfit featuring Keel's vocals on songs like Bob Marley's "Hammer." By 2004, however, Keel returned to more traditional ground, cutting a straight bluegrass album and releasing an off-the-cuff album with his brother Gary Keel. The latter album, The Keel Brothers, Vol. 1, has been filled with traditional fare from Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" to the Carter Family's "Rosewood Casket" to an upbeat instrumental take on "John Henry." Over all, The Keel Brothers, Vol. 1 is a very low-key affair, the kind of music one might call "backporch." The recording quality, as on "Rosewood Casket," occasionally reflects this lo-tech approach, and while there are a number of fine moments, the effort feels more like a loose jam than an album. Several years ago, Acoustic Disc released the Pizza Tapes, an off-the-cuff recording between David Grisman, Jerry Garcia, and Tony Rice. The album had a certain historical value, since Garcia had already died, and was advertised as a one-time thing with so-so sound quality. Perhaps had The Keel Brothers, Vol. 1 been advertised as such and extended beyond the 31-minute mark, the release would have been more satisfying.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.