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Various Artists

35 Years of the Best of Bluegrass – 1997 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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When the fledgling Rebel label released its first bluegrass 45, Earl Taylor & the Stoney Mountain Boys' "The Children Are Cryin'," it's unlikely that they were thinking very far beyond 1960; after all, the label was more a part-time diversion for than a full-time business. Yet within a few years, thanks in large part to the label's ability to draw on the talents of the Country Gentlemen and other artists in the thriving D.C.-Baltimore bluegrass scene, Rebel had become a significant force in bluegrass.

Celebrating a milestone, this collection draws together cuts both representative and significant, including several previously unreleased, from virtually every act associated with the label in 35 years of bluegrass recordings. From early singles by Red Allen, Buzz Busby and other capital city transplants to cuts from recent albums by the Lou Reid, Traditional Grass, Richard Greene and Blue Highway, the set offers a comprehensive picture of Rebel's and bluegrass's history.

Bluegrass fans will want to pick up this collection; newcomers to the style, too, have reason to leap at it, not only as a handy aural guide to the style's development, but as a wide-ranging set of pointers to the wide array of groups that have recorded for the label. A CD collection built from following up on favorite cuts on this generous 4-CD set would be a well-rounded one of which anyone could be proud, and that may be the best testimony to the durability and strength of Rebel Records.