Retro Bluegrass?

That Old Book of Mine (County Records)

Curly Seckler

By Bob Mitchell

There is an abundance of history behind this remarkable and talented man. Curly Seckler, a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Honor and "legendary first generation," set the standard for traditional bluegrass. Known mostly for his harmony vocals, Seckler steps front and center on four songs, including his signature solos, "Moonlight on My Cabin," and "You Took My Sunshine."

For the most part Seckler provides his distinctive harmony on this satisfying compilation of 11 tracks from Seckler's 1971 "Sings Again" release and five tracks from his 1989 "Tribute To Lester Flatt." "Old Book" is a magnificent showcase for pure bluegrass, the way it is meant to be played. The sounds are the same ones I heard on a radio in the mid-1940s and Fifties, authentic to the core.

As the liner notes accurately say, "Though his name is not as widely known as Bill Monroe or Ralph Stanley, his voice has been heard and appreciated by millions around the world, on classic recordings by Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and The Foggy Mountain Boys from their heyday in the 1950s. Seckler recorded over 100 songs with Flatt and Scruggs during his dozen year tenure. Many of them have become standards and the Flatt/Seckler vocal duet still represents the benchmark by which bluegrass harmony is judged."

Indeed it does and there are plenty of selections to enjoy including "We Can't Be Darlings Anymore" and "No Mother or Dad" also written by Flatt and Seckler. The project also contains two other Seckler originals, the title track and "What's The Matter Now."

Other highlights include the spine-tingling harmony on Bill Monroe's "Remember The Cross," Lester Flatt's "Why Don't You Tell Me So," and Hank Williams' "Sing, Sing, Sing." It just does not get any better. First rate musical support is provided by Willie Spears on guitar and lead vocals, Billy Edwards on banjo and lead vocals, John Palmer and Phillip Staff on bass, Tater Tate and Ron Stewart on fiddle, Hershel Sizemore on mandolin and Larry Perkins on banjo.

On a five point scale of nostalgic excellence, this release is a six. For more information, check out www.countysales.com.