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Country - Released June 7, 2019 | Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 1994 | Sugar Hill Records

Good vocals, with covers of Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally" and J. J. Cale's "After Midnight." ~ Chip Renner
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Country - Released January 1, 1995 | Sugar Hill Records

Listening to The New Seldom Scene Album in 1976, it seemed clear that the original lineup of the band was running out of ideas. By Act Four in 1979, lead guitarist/singer John Starling had been replaced by Phil Rosenthal, and the Seldom Scene had moved from Rebel to Sugar Hill. The band still possessed all of the qualities that had made it one of the top bluegrass bands of the '70s: great vocals (Rosenthal and John Duffey); high-flying harmony; jazzy guitar, banjo, Dobro, and mandolin; and a solid song selection. The question was whether the Seldom Scene could reinvigorate themselves with a new member. The opener, Rosenthal's "Something in the Wind," perfectly captures the '70s penchant for moving on, while Billy Joe Shaver's "Ride Me Down Easy" sounds tailor-made for bluegrass. Rosenthal is a smoother singer than Starling and capable of delivering lightning-quick acoustic guitar solos. But while certain cuts like "Daddy Was a Railroad Man" and "Leaving Harlan" (also written by Rosenthal) are as good as anything the band ever captured on vinyl, Act Four is a notch or two below earlier recordings like Act 1 and Act Two. Act Four attests to the fact that Rosenthal did breathe new life into the band; his songs are the best material on the album. But within the context of a nearly ten-year-old concept, his impact could only go so far. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Country - Released January 1, 2007 | Sugar Hill Records

In a way, it seems to make little sense to call the Seldom Scene "the Seldom Scene," because only one member -- banjoist Ben Eldridge -- is an original member; furthermore, while the band has retained certain characteristics over the last 30 years (the Dobro, for instance), there is no resemblance to the Starling/Duffey-led band of the '70s. Having said that, a name is just a name, and only worth as much as the members under its banner. In this sense, the Seldom Scene are blessed with a superb lineup, including Eldridge, Dobroist Fred Travers, guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Ronnie Simpkins, mandolinist Lou Reid, and guitarist Dudley Connell; they also meet the band's legacy head-on, revisiting Duffey and Ann Hill's "Don't Bother with White Satin." These guys play and sing well together, delivering charged performances of Steve Earle's "Hometown Blues" and a well-wrought version of John Fogerty's "A Hundred and Ten in the Shade." There's also a nice take on Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is a Long Time." These guys are professionals through and through, which means they always sound good; the flip side of this professionalism, however, is a predictable veneer that smoothes over all things emotional. The band ends the album with the joyfully old-fashioned (and sexist) "Too Bad You're No Good," and Scenechronized would have benefited from more nonsense like this (sans the sexism). Fans who loved the original lineup of the Seldom Scene may carp that much has changed, but the music is still a notch above most of the contemporary bluegrass out there. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Rock - Released January 1, 1994 | Sugar Hill Records

John Starling re-joined the Seldom Scene in 1994 to record an album that recalled the groups first lineup from 1971-1977 (minus bass player Tom Gray). Starling's vocals on "Grandpa Get Your Guitar" and "Almost Threw Your Love Away" carry the same solid smoothness of the early years. He also sings his share of sad songs of love lost and lives wasted as in "Like I Used to Do" and "Cheap Whiskey." the Seldom Scene have always shown a willingness to choose material from folk, country, and rock. The difference here is that the songs are quieter, drawing equally from folk and traditional bluegrass. The biggest difference though between Like We Used to Be and an earlier effort like Act 1 is that the former seems conservative in comparison, and conservative was never a word associated with the Seldom Scene. Perhaps this is due to the quieter material chosen for Like We Used to Be; but it is also due to how much bluegrass has changed because of the influence of groups like the Seldom Scene. Duffey's lead vocals also seems weaker and less resonant than on past efforts. Little of this will matter for fans of the original line-up: Starling's return after 17 years has been greatly awaited. They will hear the sweet harmony of a uniquely structured song like "Some Morning Soon" and know that it sounds a whole lot like old times. For fans of the Seldom Scene as well as fans of good bluegrass, this recording will represent a solid, pleasing effort. ~ Ronnie Lankford
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Country - Released January 1, 2000 | Sugar Hill Records

With the gradual departure of most of its original members and the sudden and untimely death of mandolinist/singer/founder John Duffey in late 1996, one might forgive the Seldom Scene if it had just given up the ghost. But instead, the sole remaining original member (banjoist Ben Eldridge) gathered some of the more recent participants around him (guitarist Dudley Connell, mandolinist Lou Reid, bassist Ronnie Simpkins, and Dobro player Fred Travers) and made one of the better Seldom Scene albums of the last 20 years. The band's reputation as a "progressive" bluegrass band remains intact, though now with a tighter focus: no synthesizers, no electric instruments. But the unusual song selections are still there, from Bruce Springsteen's "One Step Up" to Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'" and the Chuck Berry chestnut "Nadine." As it turns out, those are not the album's high points. Although the band's rendition of "Rollin' and Tumblin'" works very well, the Springsteen tune doesn't sit very comfortably in its arrangement, and "Nadine" is a disaster -- the banjo has to play painfully slowly to support the song's rhythm. But the Bill Monroe ("Blue and Lonesome") and Jim & Jesse ("I Will Always Be Waiting for You") numbers are standouts, and the funky bluegrass gospel of "You Better Get Right" is also superb. Maybe it's time for the Seldom Scene to go "acid grass" for good. ~ Rick Anderson
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Country - Released January 1, 1993 | Sugar Hill Records

With Scenic Roots, Seldom Scene returned to their traditional bluegrass roots. Although the music occasionally sounds forced, much of it is lively and wonderful, making the disc a worthwhile purchase for long-time fans, even if it isn't the place to start with this perrenial bluegrass favorite. ~ Thom Owens
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Country - Released January 1, 1996 | Sugar Hill Records

In 1995 the Seldom Scene split apart and three of its members left to form the progressive bluegrass band Chesapeake. The remaining members re-formed with Dobro player Fred Travers, lead singer Dudley Connell, and bassist Ronnie Simpkins to record what would be John Duffey's last album. The album begins with the spirited "Dry Run Creek" which tips its hat toward traditional bluegrass. Connell's vocals have a more country flavor than earlier Seldom Scene vocalists like John Starling and Phil Rosenthal, and this quality helps create a more traditional effort from a band known for its progressive tendencies. Despite these changes, the band retains much of its trademark sound and a good deal of credit for this should be given to Fred Travers's excellent Dobro playing. The song choice is also solid, including an excellent version of Jean Ritchie's "Blue Diamond" and "Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising." There are lovely moments as when Duffey sings lead on "The Boatman," though it should be noted that his voice lacks the range it once had. The harmony singing on "The Little Sparrow (Fair and Tender Ladies)" even recalls the earlier sound of Duffey's first group, the Country Gentlemen. It is perhaps tempting to use such comparisons to suggest that Duffey is looking back over his long career on Dream Scene; but it would be closer to the truth to say that Duffey and the re-formed Seldom Scene are only trying to make good music. Toward that end, they have succeeded. Dream Scene is a fine effort for both old and new fans. ~ Ronnie Lankford
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Country - Released June 7, 2019 | Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 1993 | Sugar Hill Records

Their vocal sound is changed here, but this is a first-class CD. Check out "West Texas Wind." ~ Chip Renner