Available only as a pricey Japanese import, this three-CD collection contains the Monroe Brothers
' complete 1936-1938 recordings. The historical importance of this package cannot be overstated, providing, as it does, a link between the brother-duo sound and the birth of bluegrass. Although the seeds of bluegrass can be heard among these 86 recordings, and some of the material would later surface as standards of bluegrass repertory, the music of the Monroe Brothers
is unique in its own right. Bill Monroe
's high harmonies and aggressive mandolin leads were revolutionary at the time, and the influence of the brothers' choice of material and presentation would resonate throughout country music for decades to come. Some of the recordings on this set have been mastered from off-center or damaged 78s, but most of the material is quite listenable. Despite the high import price, The Legendary Monroe Brothers
is essential for serious fans of Bill Monroe
or anyone with a deep interest in the history of country music.