The Monroe Brothers - The Monroe Brothers, Volume 1: What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul?
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The Monroe Brothers, Volume 1: What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul? (Rounder Select, 2000)

The Monroe Brothers

Reviewed by Henry Koretzky

It's difficult to listen to these seminal recordings by the Monroe Brothers without thinking of what would become Bill Monroe's musical legacy, bluegrass music. But it's the fundamental roots of what is now referred to as traditional country and old-time music that spark the duo of Bill and Charlie Monroe.

So despite the frenetic energy of the opening track, "My Long Journey Home," the mandolin chop is instead more of a furious strum that presages the banjo sound of later bluegrass. The effortless blending of their voices and the sentimental material drawn from church music and the popular ballads and recordings of their era mark the timeless character of the Brothers' music, some 64 years after they were recorded.

Although RCA released "The Essential Bill Monroe & the Monroe Brothers" a few years back, this release, the first of four that promise to collect all of the duo's RCA/Bluebird sides, carries the added strength of Charles Wolfe's superlative notes. This is a must-have release for lovers of powerful traditional music.

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