Personnel: Mike Auldridge (vocals, tenor, baritone, guitar, dobro); John Duffey (vocals, tenor, baritone, mandolin); John Starling (vocals, tenor, guitar); Ben Eldridge (vocals, guitar, banjo); John Duffy (vocals, guitar, mandolin); Tom Gray (vocals).
Recording information: R.D. Homer & Associates, Clinton, MD.
Arrangers: John Duffey; Mike Auldridge; Ben Eldridge.
The Seldom Scene's first three studio albums for Rebel are impeccable. Along with performers like John Hartford and the New Grass Revival, the Seldom Scene created quite a stir in the early '70s. While Act 1 included traditional pieces like "Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown" and "Summertime Is Past and Gone," it also drew material from folk and a new breed of singer/songwriters. And although many bluegrass fans would not have objected to "Darling Corey" or "500 Miles," they were less comfortable with "Sweet Baby James" and "City of New Orleans." Amazingly, all of the Seldom Scene's trademark elements are on full display on their first album. John Starling's folkie lead contrasts beautifully with John Duffey's high tenor, while dobroist Mike Auldridge gives this fiddle-less quintet a distinct edge. Tom Gray's bass is forever present within the band's spacious sound, while Ben Eldridge's banjo reminds the listener that the Seldom Scene is indeed a bluegrass group. The highlight among highlights? "With Body and Soul." Here, the band brings their lovely harmony to bear on a Bill Monroe classic, crafting a gut-wrenching tour de force. Act 1 still sounds fresh and vital, and progressive bluegrass never got any better. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.