Four albums that show the continuing evolution of Earl Scruggs in the 70s – with a sound that's very different than his earlier music, and maybe even sharper instrumentation overall! First up is I Saw The Light – a record made after the famous banjo pioneer split with Lester Flatt, and was very popular with a young rock crowd – as evidenced by help he gets here from Linda Ronstadt
and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – not to mention Gary and Randy Scruggs, Vassar Clements, and Norman Blake! The mix of famous names and the growing Scruggs Review sound is great – and the record is an unlikely but important entry in the rise of country rock during the early 70s, with a very different quality than some of Earl's earlier work. We might well thank the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – as the vibe is similar at times to their shifting music of the period – mixed with some Mike Nesmith inspiration, as a few of his tunes are included. Titles include "Lonesome & A Long Way From Home", "Silver Wings", "Never Ending Song Of Love", "Rock Sant & Nails", "Some Of Shelly's Blues", "It's A Picture From Life's Other Side", and "Propinquity". Features bonus tracks "The Cure", "I Saw The Light", "Fireball Mail", and "Tramp On The Street". On Live From Austin City Limits, the great Earl Scruggs takes on the growing Austin scene – which turns out to be a perfect fit for his Revue's blend of new country modes and older styles of instrumentation! Earl leads off the set with stunning work on banjo – maybe even sharper than earlier years – and the group lead off with some Dylan material at the start, showcasing some of their rock leanings – but soon bringing on other songs of their own, and making for this beautiful mix of key instrumental moments and lyrical passages. Lead vocals are from Gary Scruggs, and Randy and Steve Scruggs are in the group too – on titles that include "Nashville Skyline Rag", "I Shall Be Released", "Tall Texas Woman", "I Just Can't Seem To Change", "Black Mountain Blues", "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven", and "The Swimming Song". Strike Anywhere is a mighty nice album from the great Earl Scruggs – recorded with his boys' Revue group, and a sound that really helps keep Earl's instrumentation fresh for the 70s! Years back, we never would have thought that mixing the legendary Scruggs banjo sound with keyboards would have worked – but the change here is a great one, as Earl makes the shift that a few of his traditional instrumental contemporaries were doing at the time – such as Vassar Clements or Bashful Brother Oswald – finding a new setting for the instruments that still shine out in the lead at all the best moments. Titles include a great remake of "Mandolin Wind" – plus "Muhammad Ali", "Bring It On Home To Me", "You Really Got A Hold On Me", "I Think Of You", and "Dreaming As One". On Bold & New, the great Chips Moman produced and recorded the record – a set that shows that move that Earl had made into country rock during the decade, delivered in the best possible hands! Vocals are from some of Earl's sons, and the man himself still gets gets in plenty of banjo solos too – as the group mix their own material with a few from Bobby Emmons, who plays organ, electric piano, and clavinet on the set. Titles include "The Cabin", "Our Love Is Home Grown", "That's Alright Mama", "Found Myself A New Love", "Games People Play", "Take The Time To Fall In Love", and "Louisiana Lady".