10 Compilations and Vintage Performance Releases Worth Your Time

Acoustic Guitar, May 2018 | Go to article overview

10 Compilations and Vintage Performance Releases Worth Your Time


Doc Watson

Trouble in Mind: The Doc Watson Country Blues Collection

(Sugar Hill) 2003

Though rightly associated primarily with old-time country, Doc Watson was also a formidable blues singer and guitarist, as this fabulous 17-song compilation proves. Drawing on traditional tunes and songs written or popularized by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, the Delmore Brothers, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Mississippi Sheiks, Watson appears on this compendium solo (playing guitar, banjo, or harmonica), and also with his son Merle and bassist Eric Weissberg. Two of his best-known songs, "Deep River Blues" and "Little Sadie" are here in strong versions.

Tony Rice

58957: The Bluegrass Guitar Collection

(Rounder) 2003

The title refers to the serial number of the great bluegrass guitarist Clarence White's 1935 Martin D-28, which Rice has owned since the mid-'70s. He does that guitar proud on this extraordinary compilation of 21 old and recent tunes (spanning Bill Monroe to Béla Fleck) featuring Rice alongside such notables as Norman Blake, Doc Watson, Jerry Douglas, David Grisman, J.D. Crowe, Vassar Clements, Stuart Duncan, and so many others. Among the configurations are the Bluegrass Album Band, the Tony Rice Unit, a Rice brothers quartet, and a hot duo with Blake.

Leo Kottke

Instrumentals: The Best of the Capitol Years

(Blue Note) 2003

Leo Kottke is a fine, evocative singer, but there are always going to be fans who like his original guitar instrumentals (6- and 12-string) best. This generous 18-song compilation is for those fans and for anyone who might not know or remember how great Kottke is (and has always been). He is one of the last links to the early days of the "American primitive" guitar movement, and an utterly distinctive stylist capable of dizzying displays of speed and graceful, lilting ballads. Too bad "Watermelon" predates his Capitol years.

John Fahey

The Best of John Fahey, Vol. 2: 1964-1983

(Takoma) 2004

Though much of this collection comes from after Fahey's supposed peak years, and it includes a number of rare and even unreleased tracks (so how is that a "best of"?), it is still shows the depth and breadth of the pioneering solo guitarist's imagination. Fahey was always a little off-kilter and far away from the mainstream, and so is this cool compendium assembled by guitarist Henry Kaiser.

Neil Young

Live at Massey Hall 1971

(Reprise) 2007

The second archival release from his deep vault, this solo show (acoustic guitar and piano) at a Toronto theater finds Young in the midst of his first wave of mass popularity after the success of Crazy Horse, CSNY, and his smash Harvest album. All three of those phases are represented here, but in the solo setting these "hit" songs feel even more like the personal works they all started as, and they are interspersed with less-known songs that are every bit as good as his biggies. It's a warm and inviting album.

Pentangle

The Time Has Come, 1967-73

(Castle Us) 2008

One of the most popular and influential groups of the late 1960s' British folk wave, Pentangle is the eclectic outfit that first brought widespread attention to singular guitarists John Renbourn and Bert Jansch. …

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