Reno & Smiley

On Stage

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This collection of live performances, recorded July 21, 1957, at New River Ranch in Rising Sun, MD, and March 25, 1958, at Sunset Park in Oxford, PA, is a great companion to Reno & Smiley's established catalog of studio recordings. The performances are excellent, featuring the two stars backed by the Tennessee Cut-Ups, consisting of future Porter Wagoner alumnus Mack Magaha on fiddle and John Palmer on bass, and include nine numbers that the duo never recorded officially. The only flaw is the somewhat restricted acoustics, a product of the era in which these shows were taped -- it sounds slightly more compressed than one would like, and sometimes Palmer's upright bass is slightly too obtrusive, at other times not sufficiently present. On the other hand, this is the listener's big chance to hear the duo's versions of "Billy in the Low Ground" (a dazzling showcase for Red Smiley and Mack Magaha), "When You and I Were Young, Maggie" (a great Don Reno banjo showpiece), and "Don't Stop Now," the latter highlighted by Smiley's glittering guitar runs, not to mention Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and the Stanley Brothers' "Big Ball in Brooklyn" (some of the fastest banjo playing you'll ever hear). And the live version of "Bonaparte's Retreat," illuminated by Reno's banjo pyrotechnics (and vocal clowning), coupled with their vocal acrobatics on the gospel "He Will Set Your Fields on Fire" are by themselves just about worth the price of the album.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 02:02
2 01:55
3 02:14
5 02:23
6 01:10
7 01:35
8 00:34
9 03:51
10 02:34
11 02:10
12 02:12
13 01:41
14 02:04
15 01:52
16 01:35
17 02:55
18 01:27
19 01:36
blue highlight denotes track pick