Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
The Complete Columbia Stanley Brothers
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop
Listen to Samples
Similarly Requested CDs
Heartbreakingly beautiful music
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 12/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While both Carter and Ralph Stanley are musical treasures of the first rank, I have to confess that Ralph Stanley is my favorite bluegrass performer, and one of my favorite singers of any musical genre. Both brothers possessed prodigious musical gifts (anyone doubting Ralph's genius need only listen to his stunning a capella rendition of "O Death" on the O BROTHER WHERE ARE THOU? soundtrack to bring about a revision of their opinion), so it is almost impossible to imagine a greater bluegrass singing voice than these brothers. There is such a depth of forlorn despair and loneliness in their singing that when I hear them I always think of an anecdote about Franz Kafka. Max Brod was shocked by the deep nihilism of Kafka's view of God and the world, and asked him, given his bleak outlook, whether there was any hope in the world. Kafka replied, "Oh, plenty of hope, an infinite amount of hope--but not for us."
Given the religious tinge of the Stanley Brothers' music, it is clear that they believe in hope beyond this world, but in their music and especially in Ralph Stanley's magnificently despairing voice, you know that there is hope only in death.
These are songs about loss, despair, sadness, hopelessness, and the futility of life. They are cathartic expressions of deep suffering, acknowledgements that we were born to suffer.
Until recently, the Stanley Brothers were the least known of the three great performers in the history of bluegrass, lagging somewhat behind Bill Monroe on the one hand and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs on the other. But many, and I confess that I am one of them, prefer the Stanley Brothers to the other two. My belief is that bluegrass is a musical genre best served by the human voice, and not by the guitar or the banjo or fiddle. And in the world of bluegrass, it is impossible to surpass the incredible singing of Carter and Ralph Stanley.
The unanticipated success of the soundtrack of O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? may acquaint many previously unfamiliar with the Stanley Brothers with their incredible artistry. The connections between the Stanley Brothers and that movie are many... During the closing credits, the great Stanley Brothers standard "The Angel Band" is played. And the central song in the movie, "I'm a Man of Constant Sorrow," is the Stanley Brothers arrangement of the traditional song.
I loved the music from the movie, and "I'm a Man of Constant Sorrow" in particular, but as fine as the movie version was, it pales in comparison with Ralph Stanley's rendition. Dan Tyminski does a fine job singing in the movie, but his is almost swaggering compared with Ralph's version. Tyminski sounds feisty, bold, almost defiant, whereas Ralph's voice is the perfect embodiment of all the sorrow, pain, and resignation contained in the lyrics of the song. Tyminski doesn't really sound all that much like a man of constant sorrow; Ralph Stanley sounds like nothing else. Tyminski sings the song; Ralph wails it.
Anyone with any serious interest in bluegrass already owns this album, but I believe that anyone with any interest in music in general needs to be intimately acquainted with it as well. This is great music. It is also quite possibly the saddest, most mournful music that has ever been recorded.
Just a word about about vocal credits. On almost all songs the two brothers sang together, but nominally Carter is listed as the lead singer. But for the "rough" songs (like "A Man of Constant Sorrows") they would employ Ralph on the solos. In fact, just about all of the solos are by Ralph, even though Carter is listed as the lead singer. I was confused about a lot of this for a long time, but Ralph Stanley straightened it out on an interview he did with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air." Paradoxically, Carter Stanley was the lead singer on most of their songs even while Ralph took on most of the solos, especially ones where they wanted the rough sound."
Great Bluegrass Classics Done In The Original Stanley Sound
W. David Ferrell | West Virginia | 03/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a real gem! There is not a wasted space on this CD. The songs are classics from the late 1940's and Bluegrass Music was, in name at least, a new thing. Ralph and Carter Stanley had just been signed with the major label, Columbia Records which also had Bill Monroe, the Father Of Bluegrass, at the time. In fact, Monroe was so angry at Columbia for signing the Stanleys, who he felt had "stolen" his sound, that he left Columbia and signed with Decca (which later became MCA). Now, for the music, which on this collection, speaks for itself... "Have You Someone In Heaven Awaiting", "Gathering Flowers For The Master's Boquet", "The White Dove", "Pretty Polly" and the original version of "Man Of Constant Sorrow" make this CD well worth buying, but it doesn't stop there. There are 22 timeless classics here and every one is as good as the last. While the Stanleys hadn't quite developed their signature sound yet, this is the music that started that sound and as you listen to the CD, which seems to be put together in pretty much the order the songs were recorded, you can hear that sound develop. If you are a Stanley Brothers fan, or just a Bluegrass fan in general, you will love this cd."
W. David Ferrell | 04/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In describing the magnitude of this album's impact I can only liken it to a fragment of the holy cross. Ralph and Carter were young and fresh, yet their voices already carried the weight of the legacy which they would one day carry as members of the bluegrass triumvirate. Carter's singing in particular is the finest I have heard on record. The Clinch Mountain Boys at the time of these recordings were also first rate, especially the high baritone singing and mandolin playing of Pee Wee Lambert. The songs on this album are the rosetta stone of the Stanley repertoire - and include titles such as Sweethearts in Heaven and The Lonesome River. It is a joy to listen to these recordings and hear in them the emotion and depth that still infuses Ralph Stanley's music today. An absolute must for all fans of the Stanley Sound. These songs will take you back to the hills of southwestern Virginia and the world that gave us Carter and Ralph Stanley."