Personnel includes: Mike Auldridge, David Bromberg, Vassar Clements.
Fans of this dobro player, and they are legion, tend to champion the earlier pair of releases he created for Takoma, which among many virtues have a freshness and immediacy that would be hard to find on any Flying Fish release. For some reason much of this label's catalog, despite good intentions, has a feeling of having been protected by mothballs for several generations before being released to the general public. Despite the pervasive production stiffness, the good side in the case of this Auldridge album is that the occasional lapses that were part of his earlier, incredibly ambitious production efforts have been negated by the tighter, clearer focus. This quality is in turn enhanced by the additional maturity of the performer himself, as well as some of his associates, some of whom are the same great players that shone so brightly on earlier Auldridge projects but sound better than ever here. The cover versions of '60s and '70s pop hits are particularly worthy of attention: "Last Train to Clarkesville" comes off with a snap that is invigorating, while the mighty "California Dreamin'," having already provided a full meal for the studio pickers on the original record, has a perfect harmonic structure for bluegrass exploration, Auldridge digging into his instrument as if his slide bar was a serving spoon cracking the crust at the top of a pot of French onion soup. Some of the best fiddling on record from Vassar Clements is part of the action here, as is the steady rhythm guitar of Dick Feller. With only a few slow moments, this album is a classic of the '70s bluegrass scene. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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