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Editorial Reviews


When you think about studio tricks, the name Doc Watson doesn't usually come up. Yet, these 1967 home recordings of Doc and his late son Merle are augmented by 1998 overdubs featuring Sam Bush's fiddle, Marty Stuart's mandolin, T. Michael Coleman's bass, and Alan O'Bryant's harmony vocals. Merle was 18 at the time of the original recordings and had been picking banjo for a mere five months, but he was quickly learning what to do with it. He and his pappy roll through 14 enjoyable cuts ranging from traditionals to bluegrass to Watson-family original instrumentals. Why overdubs were needed is anyone's guess, although it can be said without hesitation that they don't add much to the proceedings. (The exception is the "hidden" Bush/Stuart duet on "Watson's Blues.") Merle's 5-string and especially Doc's warm vocals and hot guitar still carry the day and offer ample rewards on their own. Thankfully, the informal, homespun charm survives, but you can't help but wonder what these songs sounded like in their original form. --Marc Greilsamer

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