Album Details

November 12, 2007
Bear Family Records
Country, Traditional Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, Traditional Country, Bluegrass, Old-Timey, String Bands

Album Review

The older brother of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe (the brothers played and recorded together as the Monroe Brothers from 1936 to 1938), Charlie Monroe will always stand slightly in the shadow of Bill's considerable legacy, but his own body of work is solid and impressive on its own merits. Playing a mixture of bluegrass, string band, and country with just a bit of a honky tonk stance for seasoning, Monroe and his many versions of the Kentucky Pardners recorded numerous sides for RCA Victor and Decca between 1938 and 1956, the period covered by this four-disc box set from Bear Family, and if the material falls frequently to the generic side of the line, there are also several moments of inspired joy and musical brilliance. By his own admission, Monroe wasn't much of a songwriter, and his favorite ploy was to lightly tinker with traditional mountain folk tunes and then give them new titles, often then recording that same song a second time with yet another title, so listening to this set is a bit like wandering into a hall of endlessly reflecting mirrors, but several do stand out, including "When the World's on Fire, Pt. 2," a spinoff of the 1930 Carter Family song that would later lend its melody to Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land"; a sturdy "Red Rocking Chair," which bears a strong resemblance to Dock Boggs' "Sugar Baby," although the melody is a common one and Boggs undoubtedly borrowed it as well; a marvelous, definitive version of the murder ballad "Down in the Willow Garden," which G.B. Grayson had previously recorded in 1928 as "Rose Conley"; plus the closest thing Monroe had to a hit, the fun and exuberant "Bringin' in the Georgia Mail." More workmanlike and less flashy and forward-thinking than his brother Bill (although Charlie was featuring electric guitar in his band as early as 1943), Charlie Monroe still delivered the goods more often than not, and if he'll forever be remembered as the other Monroe brother, he never rode coattails and his body of work, most of which is contained here, is well worth seeking out for a listen.
Steve Leggett, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Once I Had a Darling Mother
  2. No Home, No Place to Pillow My Head
  3. Farther Along
  4. When the World's on Fire, Pt. 2
  5. Take Me Back to the Valley
  6. Happy Spirit
  7. The Great Speckled Bird
  8. Tell Him to Come Back Sweet Fern
  9. Every Time I Feel
  10. You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone
  11. Oh Death
  12. Guided by Love
  13. If You See My Saviour
  14. From Shore to Shore
  15. Is She Praying There?
  16. Joy Bells in My Soul
  17. Just One Year
  18. Black Sheep
  19. Who's Calling You Sweetheart Tonight?
  20. Rubber Neck Blues
  21. There's No Depression in Heaven
  22. Mother's Not Dead, She's Only Sleeping
  23. I'm Comin' Back But I Don't Know When
  24. It's Only a Phonograph Record
  25. Down in the Willow Garden
  26. Bringin' in the Georgia Mail
  27. When the Angels Carry Me Home
  28. If We Ever Meet Again
  29. Campin' in Canaan's Land
  30. Don't Forget to Pray
  31. The Grave at the Foot of the Mountain
  32. I See a Bright Light Shining
  33. End of Memory Lane
  34. Shenandoah Waltz
  35. Sweetheart I Love You Best
  36. I Know You'll Understand
  37. What Became of That Beautiful Picture
  38. Walking with You in My Dreams
  39. They Didn't Believe It Was True
  40. Time Clock of Life
  41. Red Rocking Chair
  42. Without Me Are You Blue
  43. Our Mansion Is Ready
  44. A Valley of Peace
  45. Rosa Lee McFall
  46. My Saviour's Train
  47. Gonna Shake Hands with Mother Over There [#]
  48. Gonna Shake Hands with Mother Over There
  49. Springtime in Glory
  50. So Blue
  51. Sugar Cane Mama
  52. Down in Caroline
  53. I Know He's Been Dealing with Me
  54. I Know He's Been Dealing with Me [#]
  55. You'd Better Be Somewhere Praying
  56. You'll Find Me There
  57. 'Neath a Cold Gray Tomb of Stone [#]
  58. 'Neath a Cold Gray Tomb of Stone
  59. Good Morning to You
  60. I'm Gonna Sing, Sing, Sing [#]
  61. I'm Gonna Sing, Sing, Sing
  62. Gold Star Mother
  63. Jesus Is Calling [#]
  64. Jesus Is Calling
  65. My Lord's Gonna Move This Wicked Race [#]
  66. My Lord's Gonna Move This Wicked Race
  67. That Wild Black Engine
  68. You'll Find Her Name Written There [#]
  69. You'll Find Her Name Written There
  70. An Angel in Disguise
  71. Find 'Em, Fool 'Em and Leave 'Em Alone
  72. I'm Old Kentucky Bound
  73. These Triflin' Women
  74. Why Did You Say Good-Bye?
  75. I'm Weary of Heartaches
  76. That's What I Like About You
  77. Weep and Cry
  78. Old Joe Clark
  79. Opening Remarks from Charlie Monroe
  80. Penitentiary Blues
  81. Patter and Story from Charlie Monroe
  82. Why Did You Ever Say Goodbye?
  83. Find 'Em, Fool 'Em and Leave 'Em Alone
  84. When the Women Get in Power
  85. I'm Old Kentucky Bound
  86. Down in Caroline
  87. Down in the Willow Garden
  88. Bill Cheatham
  89. I Know You'll Understand
  90. Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad
  91. I'm Old Kentucky Bound
  92. Bile 'Em Cabbage Down
  93. Good Morning to You
  94. Hop Along Peter
  95. Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone
  96. Orange Blossom Special
  97. I'll Thank the Friends Who Prayed for Me
  98. Penitentiary Blues
  99. Lonely Little Robin
  100. Shine on Me
  101. John Henry
  102. Paul and Silas Bound in Jail
  103. Rocky Road Blues
  104. Bile 'Em Cabbage Down
  105. Who's Calling You Sweetheart Tonight?
  106. It's Only a Phonograph Record
  107. Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad
  108. Down in Caroline
  109. (I'm Gonna) Sing, Sing, Sing
  110. Fiddle Outro