- Audio CD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Warner Bros / Wea
- ASIN: B000002KL5
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
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Roses in the Snow Import
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Emmylou's bluegrass-flavored 1980 LP soared to #26 on the pop album charts, garnering fervent praise from all corners along the way. This reissue contains her country hits Wayfaring Stranger and The Boxer , and the rest of the original LP along with two unissued bonus tracks!
Harris's 1980 back-to-the-roots album marks a high point in her career. With stellar support from Tony Rice (acoustic guitar), Albert Lee (mandolin), and Ricky Skaggs (fiddle), Harris wanders comfortably and warmly through traditional-country and bluegrass pastures. Skaggs, Dolly Parton, and the Whites add beautiful harmonies as Harris slides effortlessly from the Carter Family to the Stanley Brothers to the Louvin Brothers to Paul Simon. Among the set's peaks are Flatt and Scruggs's "I'll Go Stepping Too", with Rice, Skaggs, Lee (on superb electric guitar), and dobro master Jerry Douglas turning up the instrumental heat, and the spiritual "Jordan", with Harris, Skaggs, Rice, and Johnny Cash engaging in buoyant four-part harmonies. --Marc Greilsamer
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It kicks off with the up-tempo title track, an elegy with rich allusive imagery which is followed by the urgent Green Pastures, a stirring devotional duet with Ricky Skaggs. The traditional Wayfaring Stranger comes across with great power in her mid-tempo treatment and yearning vocals. The folk/pop Paul Simon composition The Boxer gets a graceful treatment, light and lilting, while hope triumphs over despair in the slow & melancholy The Darkest Hour is just before Dawn with its beautiful male vocals.
The picking on the fast-paced I'll Go Stepping Too is breathtaking as is the overall instrumental virtuosity. It contrasts markedly with the slow, aching ballad You're Learning, a moving description of love gone wrong. Next come the joyful gospel song Jordan where male vocals make a prominent contribution, followed by the gentle ballad Miss the Mississippi. The original album concluded with the sublime Gold Watch & Chain, another up-tempo duet.
Besides this bluegrass treasure, Emmylou's non-traditional country albums include 1987's Angel Band, a devotional album that is more folk than country, 1999's Western Wall which is folk-rock and the trilogy of Wrecking Ball, Red Dirt Girl and Stumble into Grace where she explored a haunting style of atmospheric rock music. They are all works of consummate artistry but Roses in the Snow has a visceral emotional appeal.
Every single song is a gem so it's not easy to pick favorites, but the title track, Green Pastures, Darkest Hour, The Boxer, Miss the Mississippi and Gold Watch & Chain are particularly outstanding. I also recommend Dolly Parton's bluegrass excursion Grass Is Blue although it does not leave quite as strong an impression as this masterpiece. I've discovered much beautiful new music since bluegrass made a comeback in the 1990s but I always return to Roses in the Snow as one collection embodying the absolute best of the genre.
Wayfaring stranger, a traditional song, became a top ten country hit and ensured the success of the album against record company expectations. This was 1980, remember, when Kenny Rogers was the biggest name in country music and the Urban Cowboy craze was at its height. I love Kenny's music and the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, but there are many different types of country music and it's healthy if they can co-exist.
Green pastures is a traditional song that shares the same tune as the more famous Farther along (which Emmylou recorded with Dolly and Linda on one of their Trio albums). On this track, Willie Nelson plays gut-string guitar while Ricky Skaggs sings the song as a duet with Emmylou. Dolly provides harmony vocals but you have to listen closely to hear her contribution.
The Boxer is a cover of the Simon and Garfunkel classic. It works well as a bluegrass classic, though Emmylou did not adjust the lyrics for gender. Obviously, not many people minded as the song was released as a single and made the country top twenty.
Darkest hour is just before dawn, a cover of a Ralph Stanley song, also features Ricky Skaggs on vocals. That song is followed by the brilliant up-tempo song, I'll go stepping too - if this doesn't set your toes tapping, nothing will.
You're learning comes from the songbook of the Louvin Brothers. Emmylou recorded several of their songs, notably If I could only win your love and When I stop dreaming, on her early albums and did much to revive interest in their music.
Jordan, an upbeat gospel song, features a few lines from Johnny Cash.
Miss the Mississippi and you is a cover of the Jimmie Rodgers classic, brilliantly revived by Crystal Gayle just a year or so before Emmylou recorded this album. While Crystal did it in a pop-country style, Emmylou did it as a bluegrass song. Both are excellent in their different ways - as, of course, is the original version by Jimmie Rodgers.
Gold watch and chain completes the original album. It is an old Carter family song and features Linda Ronstadt as duet singer. On the re-mastered Rhino version, you now get to hear those two extra tracks.
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