The Lilly Brothers

On the Radio 1952-1953

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AllMusic Review by

If the Lilly Brothers had stayed in their native West Virginia and pursued a bluegrass career there, they would have gone down in the history books as a classic brother act on a par with Jim & Jesse McReynolds or the Osborne Brothers (though probably not in the same class as the Stanley Brothers). But by relocating to Boston in the early '50s and building the bulk of their career in New England, they did more than that: they also built a foundation for the New England bluegrass scene that burgeoned in the 1960s and 1970s, providing training and nurturance for such top-flight talents as Joe Val, Dave Dillon, Bill Keith, Peter Rowan, and Herb Applin. That said, this collection of live radio transcriptions is something of a mixed bag. The sound quality is a bit dodgy, as might be expected for the medium and the time period, but unfortunately both the performances and the song choices are rather uneven as well. When the Lilly Brothers haul off and tear down on barnburning renditions of "Why Did You Wander" and the gospel classic "Sinner You Better Get Ready," or on their charming bluegrass arrangement of "When the Saints Go Marching In," the effect is electric. But their instrumental performances -- especially their brief intro and outro segments and an awkward take on "Rawhide" -- get kind of sloppy, and "Don't Make Me Go to Bed and I'll Be Good" is perhaps the worst of the many maudlin dying-child tearjerkers scattered throughout the bluegrass repertoire. This is a valuable document of an important and impressive ensemble, but it will be of primary interest to hardcore fans.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Don Stover
0:27
2
feat: Don Stover
2:47
3
feat: Don Stover
3:06
4
feat: Don Stover
1:39
5
feat: Don Stover
1:50
6
feat: Don Stover
3:10
7
feat: Don Stover
1:39
8
feat: Don Stover
3:25
9
feat: Don Stover
3:03
10
feat: Don Stover
2:40
11
feat: Don Stover
3:03
12
feat: Don Stover
2:05
13
feat: Don Stover
2:57
14
feat: Don Stover
1:40
15
feat: Don Stover
2:45
16
feat: Don Stover
1:59
17
feat: Don Stover
2:12
18
feat: Don Stover
3:02
19
feat: Don Stover
1:25
20
feat: Don Stover
0:33
blue highlight denotes track pick