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Evening Long Ago: Live 1956
     

An Evening Long Ago: Live 1956

5.0 2
by The Stanley Brothers
 
Recorded in a Bristol, Virginia, radio station studio in 1956, after a long day of picking and singing at various functions, An Evening Long Ago captures the Stanley Brothers at a creative peak. In a casual setting, free of commercial concerns, the towering duo essay a clutch of traditional songs as well as some of their piercing originals. With the infallible

Overview

Recorded in a Bristol, Virginia, radio station studio in 1956, after a long day of picking and singing at various functions, An Evening Long Ago captures the Stanley Brothers at a creative peak. In a casual setting, free of commercial concerns, the towering duo essay a clutch of traditional songs as well as some of their piercing originals. With the infallible support of Curly Lambert and Ralph Mayo, Ralph and Carter Stanley reach back in time for heart-tugging stories such as "Dream of a Miner's Child" and for working-class tales such as the fiddle-rich "Nine Pound Hammer." The Ralph Stanley–arranged "John Henry" explodes in instrumental exhilaration, with furious banjo and acoustic guitar trade-offs that echo the style of Flatt & Scruggs. The Stanleys' haunting harmonies are ever-present, most effectively on reflective, introspective fare such as the solemn interpretation of Claude Moody's cautionary spiritual observation, "Drifting Too Far from the Shore," and their own account of mass murder, "The Story of the Lawson Family." On the other hand, Ralph's chilling adaptation of "Come All You Tenderhearted," a mind-numbing tale of death and spiritual torment, gains its power from his unadorned solo vocal, supported by minimal, discreet instrumental punctuation. Some of this material has heretofore been available only on long-out-of-print Stanleys recordings, and this disc itself was once available as a private pressing sold at their concerts. Its return to general circulation is most welcome, and it occurs not a minute too soon -- the themes remain as topical as the music remains vibrant.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Larry Ehrlich was at end of a long day in a studio in Bristol, VA. Carter and Ralph Stanley as well as Ralph Mayo and Curley Lambert entered the studio in front of one microphone, and Ehrlich, after seeing them play hog callings, a couple of radio shows, and a barn dance, asked the band to sing some of the traditional songs they had been recording for the past 16 years. The results, completely unearthed until now, are no less than stunning. This is the Stanleys as listeners have never heard them: laid-back, relaxed, and full of recollection and goodwill, singing and playing songs as familiar to them as their upbringing. These are country and bluegrass songs to be sure, but also some of the old folk ballads that had come out of the Southern mountains along with some Anglo and Celtic ballads from the days of yore. A number of these tracks represent the only available live versions of songs from their repertoire, and a few more are almost impossible to come by in any other way. At least one cut, "Drifiting Too Far from the Shore," was closely associated with Bill Monroe, and a pair are co-written originals, the harrowing murder ballad "The Tale of the Lawson Family" (once or twice covered by the Louvin Brothers) and the beautiful mountain love song "Meet Me Tonight." Ralph wrote a good many others here, or at the very least created original adaptations: "Come All You Tenderhearted," "East Virginia Blues," and "Bound to Ride" among them. But it is on the old songs that the Stanleys shine the brightest: "Poor Ellen Smith," "Dream of a Miner's Child," and their "John Henry" are deeply affecting. The fidelity is good throughout, but the feeling of the mix is what grabs the listener and won't let go. This is a welcome and necessary addition to the Stanley Brothers catalog.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/04/2009
Label:
Sbme Special Mkts.
UPC:
0886974902225
catalogNumber:
749022

Tracks

  1. Handsome Molly
  2. East Virginia Blues
  3. The Story Of The Lawson Family
  4. Dream Of A Miner's Child
  5. Come All You Tenderhearted
  6. Poor Ellen Smith
  7. Darling Do You Know Who Loves You
  8. Shout Little Lulie
  9. Bound To Ride
  10. Meet Me Tonight
  11. My Long Skinny Lanky Sarah Jane
  12. Little Bessie
  13. Train 45
  14. John Henry
  15. Little Birdie
  16. Drifting Too Far From The Shore
  17. Orange Blossom Special
  18. Nine Pound Hammer
  19. Feast Here Tonight
  20. Tragic Love

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An Evening Long Ago: Live 1956 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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)
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.