Rose Maddox with the Vern Williams Band – A Beautiful Bouquet
All Gospel Bluegrass.
The legendary Rose Maddox was know as the Queen of California Country Music and was also the first woman to record an all bluegrass album. She spent much of her later years playing with bluegrass bands and in 1982 she went into the studio for two days with the amazing Vern Williams Band to record this album of her gospel music favorites. There was no one like Rose Maddox and there never will be.
1. We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder - 2:16 2. Life's Evening Sun - 2:40 3. Church in the Wildwood - 2:45 4. When God Dips His Love in My Heart - 2:39 5. I Can't Feel at Home - 3:10 6. Farther Along - 3:21 7. I'll Fly Away - 2:31 8. In the Sweet By and By - 2:51 9. Kneel at the Cross - 2:23 10. Turn Your Radio On - 2:20 11. Beautiful Bouquet - 2:46 12. Take Me in the Lifeboat - 2:28 13. If We Never Meet Again - 3:46 14. Swing Low Sweet Chariot - 3:03
Rose Maddox (vocals) , Vern Williams (vocals, mandolin) , Delbert Williams (vocals, guitar) , Keith Little (vocals, banjo, guitar) , Ed Neff (fiddle, mandolin) , Kevin Thompson (bass)
1. Victory Review - Tom Petersen
“Rose Maddox and Vem Williams! Rose Maddox and Vern Williams!!! OK, since every Bluegrass fanjust dropped the magazine and ran out the door to go get this record, let me just mention a few things for the rest of y'all. Rose Maddox fronted 'America's most colorfull hillbilly band' back in the '40s with a voice so exuberant, hard-edged and loud it could shatter plywood. Along about 1960, when Rose and her bandmate brothers had moved to the Pacific Northwest and she was working the Bakersfield circuit (which was anchored at one end in Tacoma by young Buck Owens' radio station and roadhouse), she ran into Bill Monroe, who suggested she sing Bluegrass. Skeptical but game, she cut a sensational record, and thereafter used Bluegrass as a career fallback. This worked out well as her brand of max-twang Country was wiped out by the 'Nashville Sound' in the 1960s, while Bluegrass festivals were on the rise.
Enter Vern Williams, the Godfather of West Coast Bluegrass, ascendant during the same decade; it was natural that these two peerless performers would wed their talents through the 1970s and 1980s. They eventually cut an album of Bluegrass standards, then, in 1982, this record of Gospel songs. Appearing as it did between Bluegrass revivals, the original vinyl run came and went, so it is a joyous day now that it has been resurrected on CD. The playing is fabulous-occasionally restrained, but always Monroe-esque in its power and accuracy. Rose's all-out style perfectly suits shouters like 'Take Me In The Lifeboat ... .. Farther Along' and 'Turn Your Radio On,' but is apt to startle on a few cuts: this 'I'll Fly Away' ain't no sweety-sweety Peasall Sister deal! Priceless, in its own way, for sure. Now the rest of you, drop the mag and run out and get this record!"
2. AllMusic - Rick Anderson
In her prime, Rose Maddox was known as a country and rockabilly singer. But as she got older she spent more and more time singing with bluegrass bands, and this fine album (originally released on LP in 1983) was recorded over the course of two days with the Vern Williams Band. The program consists entirely of gospel songs, and the combination of Williams' slightly gruff high tenor and Maddox's powerful, brassy voice is a surprisingly effective one. The band itself is, for the most part, fairly workmanlike, though there are several sparkling moments of inspiration. They show a particular affinity for songs with tricky and irregular rhythms -- "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder" is more difficult than they make it sound, and their hocketing vocal arrangement is lots of fun. They also manage to make the extra beats in "Turn Your Radio On" sound completely natural. Other highlights include an appropriately soaring version of "I'll Fly Away" and a soulful rendition of "Church in the Wildwood," but "I Can't Feel at Home" is given a slightly plodding treatment here and the title track is a bit maudlin, even by bluegrass gospel standards. Even with its minor flaws, though, this disc is a welcome reminder of one of country and bluegrass music's most powerful female voices.
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