Mike Auldridge, Dobro
File Between: Chet Atkins and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Comments: Mike Auldridge was a young, relatively hip member of the “progressive bluegrass” movement of the early 70s, taking the traditional instrumentation — guitar, fiddle, banjo, resonator guitar — of bluegrass and applying it to more ambitious compositions, drawing as much from jazz and rock as country. His band the Seldom Scene was one of the flagships of the movement; but on this solo album, he keeps the song lengths mostly lean and trim, and drawn from traditional music of all kinds: Jimmy Driftwood’s “Tennessee Stud,” “The House of the Rising Sun,” “Greensleeves,” with a few originals thrown in. It’s a mostly instrumental album, though Auldridge takes vocal turns on “Rolling Fog” and “Take Me.” The pleasure, though, is in the playing: superbly-recorded, effortlessly atmospheric and fluid and just plain gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve heard a record that sounded this immediately beautiful in a long time; and while it does get a little samey — it may be better as background music than intently focused on — it’s charming enough throughout that it doesn’t matter. Checking the credits for names I recognize, I see that Vassar Clements turns up on fiddle and David Bromberg on lead guitar, and Norman Blake wrote the gushing liner notes; that right there is reason enough to listen.
A Keeper? Hell, I’m going to listen to it again as soon as I post this.
Vinyl Rip: It’s Over