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The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

6980 reviews in the archive.

Bill Keith  Beating Around the Bush Recording/Album Reviews

Submitted by ukuleleph (see all reviews from this person) on 2/9/2010

Where Purchased: Green Linnert Records Mail Order

Overall Comments

There is a problem with Bill Keith - his recordings are so bloomin' hard to find !. How can a picker; who is an original and so inventive, be so difficult to find recordings of his playing ?. (Oh Bill, where art thou ?)

Nevertheless, this recording; now out of print, is a well worth hunting down.

It highlights Bill's melodic playing in a few different ways. He shows how songs on the banjo can come from exploring scales (e.g. "Bay State Bounce"). There is some double banjo work with Tony Trischka on a Franz List song - "Lieberstraum". This works too. (You can see this on you tube - not with Trischka though). Then there is some straight bluegrass too.

Of note for banjo freaks; there is only one "Scruggs" style "shave & a haircut ending on the CD - no doubt to demostrate he can cut it with anyone. But the ending on the other songs is eye opening (or ear opening). They are very clever. (There is a fiddle & banjo ending). Whether you call them "scalar", or "chromatic" or "melodic" doesn't matter. They are smokin' great endings.

Keith has a song; "Bending the Strings" where he demonstrates his tuning pegs. Brilliant. I don't think we appreciate who we have here - an inventive, clever muso who also sounds great to the ear. Lets appreciate him.

Keith throws in a steel guitar on a song which at first was hard to take (even though I am a lapsteel player). But after a while, you realise how well it was played and realise "this works". There is a also a double mandolin break.

Then, the CD finishes with two jazz songs. Both brilliantly played by all muso's (not bluegrass muso's but jazz muso's who are all at virtuoso standard) as you would expect from Keith's high standards. Keith's soloing on this is clever & enjoyable.

He has a go at singing. He is not a great singer, but his voice adds, not takes away from the album.

Oh - I forgot to mention the computerised "drop in the bucket" sound. Clever.

The worst thing about this CD is the liner notes; so hard to follow. But if thats the worst thing about an album, it must be OK.

Overall, this album is cutting edge stuff, well produced, well played, well composed, well thought out, but not enough copies made. If you can get a copy, I think you'll find it worthwhile.

From Sydney, Australia.

Overall Rating: 9

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