Flatt & Scruggs: Lester Flatt (vocals, guitar); Earl Scruggs (vocals, guitar, banjo).
Additional personnel: Merle R. Travis (vocals, guitar); Burkett H. "Buck" Graves (vocals, dobro, bass); English P. "Jake" Tullock, Jr. (vocals, acoustic bass, sound effects); Billy E. Powers (guitar, background vocals); Maybelle Carter (guitar, autoharp); John Ray "Curly" Seckler (mandolin, handclapping, background vocals); William K. "Kenny" Haddock (dobro); Paul Warren (fiddle, handclapping, background vocals); Gordon Terry (fiddle); William Edward "Billy" Liebert (piano); Joseph S. Zinkan (acoustic bass); John W. Greubel, Douglas G. Kirkham, M.C. "Muddy" Berry, William P. "Willie" Ackerman, Murray M. "Buddy" Harman, Jr. (drums); Culley Holt (background vocals).
Producers: Don Law, Neely Plumb, Frank Jones.
Reissue producer: Richard Weize.
Recorded at Bradley Film & Recording Studio and Columbia Studio, Nashville, Tennessee; RCA Victor Studio 1 and RCA Victor Studio 2, Hollywood, California between August 23, 1959 and November 27, 1963; Recorded live at Carnegie Hall, New York, New York on December 8, 1962. Includes liner notes by Neil V. Rosenberg.
While the first Flatt & Scruggs box on Bear Family documented the band's development over its first 11 years -- 1948-1959 -- this set captures the band at the height of its meteoric rise to fame into the stuff of legend. First and foremost, Flatt & Scruggs eclipsed the fame of their mentor, Bill Monroe by having six charting singles in Billboard between the mid-'50s and 1960. They also got reviewed in Playboy and Downbeat magazines and began to play the Newport Folk Festival and appear on stages with Joan Baez, Cisco Houston, the Kingston Trio, New Christy Minstrels, Woody Guthrie, John Jacob Niles, and many others. Things began to heat up for Flatt & Scruggs in 1963, when they debuted the "Theme of Jed Clampett" for the new television comedy series The Beverly Hillbillies. This box contains six complete LPs recorded during those years, the complete edition of their concert at Carnegie Hall, and an album of square dancing fiddle tunes for which guitarist Merle Travis and fiddler Gordon Terry were added to the band. Over five CDs and 139 selections, the Flatt & Scruggs trek to superstardom is well documented. Their names became household for appearances on everything from the Ed Sullivan show to The Price Is Right. But most importantly, what Flatt & Scruggs accomplished during this period was extraordinary: They not only brought the American public at large to traditional country and bluegrass music from the Southern mountains; they also pushed the envelope on the bluegrass to places it literally would never have gone. Take a listen to their version of Doc Watson's "I'm Troubled" from 1963, recorded just four days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the use of Buddy Harman's drums on Guthrie's "Hard Travelin" and "This Land Is Your Land," or Maybelle Carter's lead guitar on an entire program of Carter Family classics recorded in 1961. This is the sound of history in the making, of mountain music coming down from the mountain as the rest of the country opens to it in all of its raw, heartfelt glory. This is breathtaking material and is the most mainstream of the three sets devoted to Flatt & Scruggs -- there is one devoted to Lester's music after the band's demise -- and it is the most exciting. ~ Thom Jurek