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Posted October 1, 2010
An old-time mountain bluegrass sound that reaps a bountiful harvest
Playing Time – 37:33 -- Bluegrass music doesn’t get much more lonesome than Ralph Stanley’s. G. B. Grayson’s “I’ve Always Been a Rambler” is a good choice of song to open this album and set the stage for a collection of classic bluegrass music at its finest. “Great High Mountain” is a compilation of Ralph Stanley favorites recorded between 1971-1996. “Wild Geese Cry Again” (recorded in 1996) is the only previously unreleased number, with all the others appearing on various Ralph Stanley albums on the Rebel Records label. Four tracks are pulled from the album, “Old Home Place” (Rebel-1562). Besides Stanley’s own mournful vocals, other vocalists featured include Jack Cooke, Keith Whitley, Danny Marshall, Charlie Sizemore, Roy Lee Centers, Ricky Lee, and Chester “Pop” Marshall. The choice of material is arranged with a diverse array of vocal solos, duos, trios and quartets. A favorite instrumental, “Clinch Mountain Backstep,” breaks up the overall set at track #7. After Ralph frails his banjo on “I’ve Got a Mule to Ride,” the album closes with a spiritual quartet, “Amazing Grace,” and reflective duet, “Home in the Mountains.” Stanley’s music has always placed primary importance on the singing, and the 2004 Virginian of the Year stresses that “the instruments are there to bolster up the singing.” “Great High Mountain” clearly illustrates how lyrics, music and feeling in mountain music work together to get it as lonesome as you can get it. On the surface, old-time traditional sounds may appear simplistic. In reality, you’ve got to feel the old-time way to play it correctly. Stanley once said , “I really think that bluegrass if it’s sung right and done right and the proper feeling put to it is the hardest music in the world to play.” That is what this album epitomizes. “Great High Mountain” embodies an old-time mountain bluegrass sound that reaps a bountiful harvest. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.