The Seldom Scene

The New Seldom Scene Album

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There is a funny moment on The New Seldom Scene Album (1976) that will leave fans smirking: does John Starling really make a reference to cocaine on Greg "Fingers" Taylor's "Big Rig"? It sure sounds like it, though the official version of the lyric is "smokin'," not "snortin'." Perhaps it sounded more natural when Jimmy Buffett sang it on Havana Daydreamin', but one has to remember this all happened in the '70s (and if someone had been smoking, it probably wouldn't have been cigarettes). The Seldom Scene had always proven eclectic in their song choices, and The New Seldom Scene Album is no different. Here, the band has written several originals, borrowed a classic from the Stanley Brothers, and picked up one Herb Pedersen and two Rodney Crowell songs. But the album also finds the band in a restless mood, edging away from its original template on cuts like Pedersen's "Easy Ride from Good Times to the Blues." Mike Auldridge trades his Dobro for a pedal steel here and guest Mark Cuff adds drums. It's a strange mixture, much less integrated than similar experiments by the New Grass Revival, and the band quickly switches between this and a more traditional mode of playing. While there is much to admire about the album, and while cuts like "I Haven't Got the Right to Love You" and "Rebels You Rest" are as good as anything the band had ever recorded, it's easy to get the impression that the original lineup was running out of ideas. Still, even on an off day, the charge of listening to the Seldom Scene is closer to "snortin'" than "smokin'," regardless of the lyric sheet.

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