Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Gunther Schuller: Country Fiddle Band [Columbia, 1976]
Why do I love this semiclassicized perversion when country fiddle and bluegrass music that strives for authenticity leaves me cold? It's all in the candor of the striving; as usual, I'm put off by the way so-called folk groups formalize a tradition that had spontaneity and unselfconsciousness at the root of its attraction. This silly symphony is something else. The melodies are fetchingly tried-and-true, the (unintentional?) stateliness of the rhythms appropriately nineteenth-century, and the instrumental overkill (twenty-four instruments massed on "Flop-Eared Mule") both gorgeous and hilarious. A grand novelty. B+