Ten bluegrass albums that will change your world

Bluegrass might be the punk version of country.
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LESTER FLATT AND EARL SCRUGGS – The Fabulous Sound of Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs – 1964

Speaking of giants who started with Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs were members of Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in the 1940s. When they split from Monroe, Lester did most of the singing and played guitar while Earl became famous as one of the greatest banjo players there ever was. Their band was called the Foggy Mountain Boys.

There was a creative tension between the partners that yielded extraordinary results. Scruggs favored the new sounds of progressive bluegrass while Flatt preferred the more traditional ones. So you get both from the best of Flatt & Scruggs.

The other thing you recognize is that though both were fully capable of playing fast, they had some of their greatest success in slowing down the rapid picking and allowing the music to evolve. That is the actual point of one song on Fabulous Sound – the Johnny Cash composition “When Papa Played the Dobro.”

For a lot of mainstream America, Flatt & Scruggs were the face of bluegrass owing to their appearances as themselves on The Beverly Hillbillies, and their iconic theme song for the number one show in the country in the early ‘60s. Pretty soon, another outstanding bluegrass act – the Dillards – was making regular appearances on The Andy Griffith Show as the fictional Darling family.