Black Music Matters Festival

Earl Scruggs

I Saw The Light With Some Help From My Friends – 2005 (Columbia)

Reviewed by John Lupton

See it on Amazon

In the aftermath of the famous split of Flatt & Scruggs in 1969, Flatt preferred to continue in the traditional vein, forming the Nashville Grass, which he led until his death in 1979. Scruggs, who is still performing in his eighties, had become fascinated by the emerging country-rock "crossover" exemplified by The Eagles, Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others, and plunged into it with his Earl Scruggs Revue, anchored by his sons Randy, Gary and Steve.

And, in fact, 1972's "I Saw The Light..." features not only the Revue, but the Dirt Band as well. Also on hand were Arlo Guthrie and a pair of powerhouse female vocalists. One, Linda Ronstadt, was a couple of years away from the superstardom her "Heart Like A Wheel" album would garner. The other, Tracy Nelson never seemed to quite achieve the recognition she deserved, but she nearly steals the show here. Her "Motherless Child Blues" is the album's standout cut, and her duet with Ronstadt on U. Utah Phillips' "Rock Salt and Nails" will send chills down your spine.