Old Train

The Seldom Scene

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Old Train Review

by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

By 1974, the Seldom Scene were one of the hottest progressive bluegrass bands on the D.C. circuit. Their fourth album, Old Train, shows why. The band confidently kicks off with the instrumental "Appalachian Rain" before delving into their trademark three-part harmony on Herb Pedersen's "Wait a Minute." On songs like "Wait a Minute" and "Different Roads," John Starling's lead vocals sound more folk than bluegrass. Only John Duffy's tenor, coming in loud and clear on the chorus, reminds the listener that he or she is listening to a bluegrass group. The Seldom Scene, however, also have a traditional side. Sparkling versions of "The Old Crossroads," "Traveling on and On," and "Working on a Building" hark back respectfully to classic bluegrass. A number of guests help the band fill out its sound on Old Train. Linda Ronstadt's vocals show up on Paul Craft's drinking classic "Through the Bottom of the Glass," while Ricky Skaggs' fiddling adds a number of flourishes. The album may seem a bit short, but with material like the title track and "C & O Canal," every minute will be prized. For anyone curious about how good the original lineup sounded, Old Train provides a snapshot of a band that had it all.

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