Bill Monroe - American Traveler
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American Traveler (County/Universal Music Special Markets, 2000)

Bill Monroe

Reviewed by Henry Koretzky

A less essential Bill Monroe release is County Records' foray into the mainstream retail market, a sampling of Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys recordings ranging from 1952 to 1975. These 16 tracks, all but 2 of which are instrumental, were chosen simply because the titles evoke various geographic locales (i.e., "Big Ball in Brooklyn," "Texas Gallop," "Roanoke," etc.). Granted, any excuse to revisit Monroe is a good one, and this CD seems to be marketed towards the casual listener as an introductory curiosity. The bluegrass completist would only get some mileage out of the brief but anecdotally interesting liner notes by contemporary mandolinist Butch Baldassari and label head Dave Freeman.

But despite the presence of Monroe in his prime, supported by the likes of Sonny Osborne, Kenny Baker, Jimmy Martin, Bobby Hicks, Vassar Clements, Bill Keith and Tony Ellis, among others, those looking for more than just a random survey of Monroebilia are better off looking elsewhere. Nevertheless, it's comforting to envision a truckstop patron somewhere receiving their first exposure to classic bluegrass via this compilation.

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