Monday, February 24, 2014

Dueling Banjos by Eric Weissberg, Marshall Brickman and Steve Mandel from the Original Soundtrack to Deliverance

Is this a movie soundtrack or a bluegrass album? Well, it is both, actually; the soundtrack to the movie Deliverance and probably the album that introduced bluegrass music to many people who may not have heard it before. If you like guitar and banjo pickin' music, then this album will more than satisfy your needs. The fact that it was originally released back in 1972 makes it all the more interesting as it still sounds fresh today.

Amazon review:
Wonderful, exhilarating, breathtaking music, both in speed and execution. Banjoist Eric Weissberg has spent most of his career in relative obscurity as a studio musician, which is a shame as he is one of the finest banjo players to ever pick up the instrument. City born and musically educated at the University of Wisconsin and Juilliard, Weissberg was a seminal banjo picker who combined the power and taste of Earl Scruggs along with the progressive melodic banjo stylings of the 1960s.

Obviously, the album features the definitive version of "Dueling Banjos" that Weissberg recorded with Steve Mandel. The rest of the tracks come from an incredible album called "New Dimensions in Banjo and Bluegrass," released by Elektra in 1963. Most of the tracks feature brilliant dual arrangements between Weissberg and Marshall Brickman, a banjoist who left the music world behind to write movies for Hollywood (The Bad News Bears, co-writer for Annie Hall). They are backed by guitar legend, Clarence White, who creates beautiful backup runs on songs like "Pony Express" and fine solos throughout. I think the fiddler was Gordon Terry, whose atmospheric style on "Reuben's Train" will make your hair stand on end.

The album is loaded with famous and oft-copied banjo licks, including the descending single-string work on Little Maggie, the "bumblebee break" on an insane version of "Shucking the Corn," the C-F-E-C chord sequence on "Riding the Waves," and some of the fastest (and cleanest) banjo work you'll ever hear anywhere on songs like "Rawhide" and "Hard, 'Aint it Hard".

1. Dueling Banjos
2. Little Maggie
3. Shuckin' The Corn
4. Pony Express
5. Old Joe Clark
6. Eight More Miles To Louisville
7. Farewell Blues
8. Earl's Breakdown
9. End Of A Dream
10. Buffalo Gals
11. Reuben's Train
12. Riding The Waves
13. Fire On The Mountain
14. Eighth Of January
15. Bugle Call Rag
16. Hard Ain't It Hard
17. Mountain Dew
18. Rawhide

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