Rebel offers remastered Tony Rice California Autumn CD

The shock passing on Christmas Day last year (2020) of stellar guitarist and ace vocalist Tony Rice created an outpouring of affection for him, personally, and increased interest his music. 

One example of this is the great demand for one of Rice’s early recordings, Rebel’s California Autumn (SLP-1549 (1975 and 2021)). Mark Freeman, President of Rebel Records, elaborates …

“This only just came together in the last few months. We were down to a few hundred or so copies of the original CD in the warehouse when word came of Tony’s passing on Christmas and, as you can imagine, they quickly flew off the shelf in a matter of weeks. Since the art files we used to reprint the original inserts and trays were no longer good (it was first pressed back in the early ’90s) and the graphics were in dire need of a fresh look, we decided to completely overhaul the artwork. The CD now comes newly packaged in a four-panel digipak and features an eight-page booklet with notes by Tim Stafford, along with some cool never-before-seen photos of Tony. The album has been completely remastered from the original analog tapes as well!”

As well as providing some general background, Tim Stafford, Rice co-biographer with Caroline Wright, shares some personal recollections about listening to the album when he moved to the East Tennessee State University campus in January 1979, and the enduringly powerful impact of these recordings done over four years earlier.  

Rice (lead and rhythm guitar) adds his vocals to two solo songs and is backed on harmony vocals by John Starling and Ricky Skaggs on two others. 

Starling, who also plays rhythm guitar on two tracks, produced the 12-track collection and engaged the services of Seldom Scene cohorts Tom Gray (bass), Ben Eldridge (banjo) and Mike Auldridge (reso-guitar), along with Larry Rice (mandolin) to provide the core instrumental support. Also, he brought in Ricky Skaggs (fiddle, viola and mandolin) and Jerry Douglas (reso-guitar) to both make their recording debuts with Tony Rice. The New South leader J.D. Crowe adds banjo to one track.

Continuing with the credits, the legendary George Massenburg was responsible for the mixing, and as engineer he was assisted by Bill and Fran Tate. This new release was re-mastered by David Glasser, Airshow Mastering, and artwork newly designed by David Lynch, Lynch Graphics. 

The photographs that Freeman speaks of are from the BOM Services/Red Clay Records/Moon Shiner magazine archives.

The material includes two Rice originals, one from brother Larry, an eclectic mix of other songs and tunes (with composers including Cy Coben; Jimmie Skinner; Hank Williams; Jack Pettis, Billy Meyers and Elmer Schoebel; Hoagy Carmichael; and Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon) and three traditional songs. 

Track listing ….. 

California Autumn / Bullet Man / Mr. Poverty / Billy In The Low Ground / Red Haired Boy / Good Woman’s Love / You Don’t Know My Mind / Alone And Forsaken / Bugle Call Rag / Georgia On My Mind / Scarborough Fair / Beaumont Rag. 

It’s great to know that California Autumn is still proving to be so popular and will remain in circulation in this enhanced format. The remastered CD is available for sale online.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.