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|The Stanley Brothers||Primary Artist|
|Ervin T. Rouse||Composer|
|Carter Stanley||Arranger, Composer|
|Howard Fritzson||Art Direction|
|Larry Ehrlich||Producer, Liner Notes|
|Lily Lew||Packaging Manager|
Posted October 1, 2010
It's a nice surprise when archivists dig up something new on well-known; doubly so when the material expands our view of their careers. This disc, previously only available on vinyl at Ralph Stanley's gigs, provides welcome new details on the roots of one of bluegrass music's greatest acts. ¶ In 1956 the Stanley Brothers were at the height of their powers, with a repertoire that had expanded across a series of records for Mercury. This performance, recorded in an off-air Bristol, Virginia radio studio is an intimate recitation of their roots, laid down with no audience beside the engineers, and with no planning beyond a career’s worth of practice. The brothers wander easily through their catalog - all first takes, with no set list - testifying to the power of brotherly bonds and countless nights on the road. ¶ The brothers’ stage and radio performances have been well documented (notably by Copper Creek’s out-of-print 11-disc "Stanley Series" and Rebel’s "On Radio"), but this private recording is something very different. Without no audience to please, the Stanley’s ad-libbed a song list weighted heavily towards their personal favorites - songs not often included in their stage or recording repertoires, and only three of which they’d previously waxed. Their selections reach back to folk standards learned in childhood and formative works by the Delmore and Monroe Brothers. ¶ Highlights include tales of family tragedy, "Come All You Tenderhearted" and "The Story of the Lawson Family," both chilling in their knowing details of death and murder, and a stupendous duet of "Orange Blossom Special." The latter, in particular, shows off the brotherly bond that allows their vocals to careen in tandem around the song’s mountain curves. Ralph’s banjo drives the solo "Shout Little Lulie" (reportedly the first song his mother taught him) and "Little Birdie." ¶ This intimate snapshot stakes The Stanley Brothers’ claim as among the greatest harmony duos in bluegrass history. Carter Stanley’s voice defines the high, lonesome sound of bluegrass, and combined with his brother’s tenor harmonies, the two voices stick together like magnets. Carter's introductions provide occasional context, but mostly the brothers focus on each other. Mandolin player Curly Lambert adds additional harmonies, and fiddler Ralph Mayo adds the aching blue notes to this superb volume of mountain soul.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2010
The session was recorded by Larry Ehrlich at the WCYB radio studios in Bristol, Virginia on March 24, 1956, when they accompanied Curley Lambert (mandolin), Ralph Mayo (fiddle) and Larry Ehrlich (recording engineer) to the radio studio around midnight to record live around one microphone. Around that time, they were using either Bill Lowe or Doug Morris on bass, but the session unfortunately took place without a bass-player. As with many live recordings, you get spontaniety, energy, and even a few comments or ambient noises. It’s interesting to note that, with a few exceptions, many of these songs are among the first recorded renditions of them for the Stanley Brothers. Little Birdie, Orange Blossom Special, and Tragic Love are some songs that had been recorded prior to March, 1956. For a few others, I am not sure if they were ever recorded by both Carter and Ralph (prior to Carter’s untimely death in 1966) unless they appear on other live recordings from the era. The twenty tunes offered on this project include many of their famous brother duets and instrumentals, many from their own folkloric family tradition and early recordings of the 1930s and 40s. While many of these songs would be recorded again in later years on fancier equipment, “An Evening Long Ago” is a rawboned performance of their straight-ahead traditional old-time mountain music and bluegrass. This is a rare opportunity to experience the beauty and power of The Stanley Brothers at one peak in their music career together. It’s simply the feeling on this disc that allows us to nostalgically relive a time when they travelled the circuitous, narrow mountain roads between radio stations, churches, barn dances, and tiny schoolhouse auditoriums. (Joe Ross, Bluegrass Now)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.