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Definitive Collection 1947-1966 (W/Book)
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Christian, Gospel
On the 60th anniversary of their first studio recording, bluegrass legends the Stanley Brothers are being commemorated with The Stanley Brothers: The Definitive Collection (1947-1966). Released to stores on February 27, 20... more »
On the 60th anniversary of their first studio recording, bluegrass legends the Stanley Brothers are being commemorated with The Stanley Brothers: The Definitive Collection (1947-1966). Released to stores on February 27, 2007, just two days after Ralph's 80th birthday, it is the first comprehensive box set to chronicle their entire career. The Definitive Collection comes at a time when bluegrass is in the midst of a surge in popularity, started by the hit film and soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou? and continuing on with artists such as Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, and Nickel Creek releasing critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums dedicated to the genre. Released 40 years after their last performance together, the box set includes songs from every record label they recorded for and rare live performances. The package is highlighted by three previously unreleased tracks and two additional songs that have never been available on CD before, as well as rare photos, many of which were culled from vintage song and picture books that were sold by radio stations in the 1940s and 50s and from the King Records photo archives. It also includes a biographical essay by bluegrass historian Gary Reid and a special introduction by Ricky Skaggs. The Stanley Brothers are regarded as one of the preeminent groups from the early days of bluegrass music. With Carter possessing one of the finest voices in the genre and his brother Ralph's inspired banjo playing (his unique sound has come to be called "Stanley-style") the duo performed what is now known as traditional bluegrass. As Carter's melancholy voice brought sweeping emotion to a song, his brother Ralph's soared above; together they blended to achieve a most soulful duet. Said Carter, "We're the Stanley Brothers, that's the way I've always tried to work it--we have got out, I think, and developed a sound of our own. I think as long as you sing a song with the best feeling you've got, and if you do feel it, I think the people will know it and they'll call it whatever they want to call it." Despite the fact that it's been four decades since the demise of the Stanley Brothers, a fascination with them and their music continues to grow. They have been enshrined in the International Bluegrass Music Association's prestigious Hall of Honor and are currently the subject of a critically acclaimed theatrical production called Man of Constant Sorrow. Over the years, artists such as Ricky Skaggs (who hit #1 with their "Don't Cheat in Our Home Town"), Patty Loveless, and Emmylou Harris have had significant hits by recording songs originally written or recorded by the Stanley Brothers. The duo also remains very much in the hearts of fans at a grassroots level; pickers at bluegrass festivals play their songs in countless informal jam sessions every weekend. This collection finally pays due to a group that shaped classic bluegrass and continues to influence each new generation of pickers and singers. While they have been the subject of label-specific compilations in the past, The Definitive Collection is the only collection that spans their full career, amassing the most important, influential and beloved songs. Included in the set are classics "The White Dove," made in 1949, "Rank Strangers," "How Mountain Girls Can Love," "Pretty Polly," and "Oh Death." "Angel Band" was later featured in the award-winning soundtrack to O Brother. "I'm a Man of Constant Sorrow" was also used as the model for the version that was recorded for the film, and Ralph contributed a new recording of their "Oh Death" for it as well. Stanley Brothers fans and music historians alike will relish the three previously unreleased songs unearthed for the box set; "Will You Be Loving Another Man" (1955), "Tell Me Why My Daddy Don't Come Home" (one of the first songs the brothers ever performed and finally recorded at a coffeehouse performance in Hollywood in 1962), and "Sugar Coated Love," (recorded with Carter's longtime inspiration, Bill Monroe). The two songs in the collection that have never been available on CD before are the gospel gems "Hide Ye in the Blood" and "Dust on the Bible."
A collection that truly is definitive
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 09/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have owned two previous Stanley Brothers albums on CD, as well as one on LP. The latter was 16 Greatest Hits, which frankly wasn't a very good collection. The two albums on CD, however, were both extraordinary. Angel Band: The Classic Mercury Recordings is a collection of the Stanley Brothers recordings from the mid-fifties that shows them at the height of their genius. Equally fantastic is the Complete Columbia Recordings. Both of these show the Stanley Brothers at their greatest. As great as Bill Monroe and Flat & Scruggs were, bluegrass at its best is a vocal art, and vocally no one was better than the Stanley Brothers (though I have to point out that if I could travel back in time to see any bluegrass act, I would love to be in the 1940s to see Bill Monroe's line up with not merely Flatt and Scruggs in the band, but superstar fiddle player Vassar Clements, an assemblage of so much talent as to seem surreal). You would have Ralph Stanley singing the mid-range harmony, his brother Carter singing a very high tenor lead, and usually another band member singing even higher. Or occasionally they would do numbers with a lead solo voice, usually Ralph on great songs like "Man of Constant Sorrow" or "O Death" (which he performed in the Coen Brothers film O BROTHER! WHERE ART THOU?).
I can recommend either of those albums strongly. They both show one of the greatest musical acts in American history at their very best. So that is the context for my saying that this box set, The Definitive Collection 1947-1966, is without any question the greatest Stanley Brothers album ever released and absolutely the one essential collection of theirs to own. it has all the greatest hits, a number of rareties, and a number of the quirky songs that were staples of their act (it isn't a great skit, but as a native of Little Rock I always get a kick out of "How Far to Little Rock?"). Frankly, it is hard to imagine this album ever being superseded. If you love the Stanley Brothers -- or even if you don't but want to know more -- this is the hands down the album by them that you most need to own. American music just doesn't get any better than this."
How can you miss
Curt A. Enos | Norfolk VA | 05/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I do not yet have this collection. I have many of the pieces on previous compilations but just reviewing the song list gives me goose bumps. There is a ton of great material here, the Stanley Brothers are essential to any bluegrass or folk collections. There is a song Jacob's Vision, that I had on one of those bargain bin cassettes you see in truck stops. One of the most moving songs ever recorded. Looked for it for years after the tape broke and here it is on CD. Listened to a sample of that and it is the same song I have looked for quite a while. Buy this set now, you will not regret it for a moment. Cannot vouch for the mastering quality, the booklets or any of that, but the songs are great and have been scattered over many different labels for years. Here it is in one box."