ARTIST: The Stanley Brothers
TITLE: The Complete Mercury Recordings
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Most of these tracks were A or B sides of 78’s and 45’s
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Blue Moon of Kentucky, Orange Blossom Special, Angel Band
LINEUP: Ralph Stanley, Carter Stanley, the Clinch Mountain Boys
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Stanley Brothers record bluegrass (mostly gospel with some breakdowns, etc.) for Mercury from 1953-57.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a couple of career bumps, the Stanley Brothers regroup the Clinch Mountain Boys and the result are these bluegrass classics.
Most are gospel songs, but all feature some great picking from Ralph on banjo and some great lead singing by Carter with Ralph on backing. The backing band, usually fiddle, mandolin, guitar and acoustic bass are all ace players as well. You can tell that they influenced romps such as the Louvin Brothers with their singing and subject matter.
There are a lot of original songs here, along with one of the defining versions of “Orange Blossom Special” and the version of “Blue Moon of Kentucky” that used Elvis’ arrangement in a bluegrass style. Their version of “Angel Band” is the defining one for that song.
If you are any way interested in bluegrass, pick this up.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bluegrass waned as a popular form in 1958, so they went to Florida to headline a radio show and signed to King Records, and released albums and singles from there.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: A. Bluegrass as it was, and should be.