Saturday Night & Sunday Morning
This 31-cut, two-disc project is a masterpiece reflecting both the secular and spiritual sides of Ralph Stanley's artistry. It is also a concept he mulled over in his mind for some time before executing it. The idea was to include performers from both the country and bluegrass worlds doing songs that somehow fit into the Stanley Brothers' tradition. With the inclusion of some Stanley originals as well as tunes written by Bill Monroe, Dwight Yoakam, Tom T. Hall, and Roy McMillan, this is not only a diverse compilation of material, but also one that never fails to interest the listener. Certainly the start-off number, McMillan's "Mountain Folks," which is done up just right by Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, sets the tone. Followed by a duet between Stanley and Yoakam on the infectious "Down Where the River Bends," it quickly moves through to Stanley's final secular duet with fellow bluegrasser Bill Monroe. Their teamwork on "Letter From My Darling" is monumental. The spiritual numbers include Stanley and Tom T. Hall on the well-known gospel number "Rank Stranger" and Carter Stanley's sadly descriptive "The Fields Have All Turned Brown." But the most beguiling track is the fervent version of Yoakam's tribute song to his coal mining grandfather, Luther Tibbs. "Miner's Prayer" is given a gospel overhaul, making what was already a brilliant creation into an even more ageless tune that will be played, loved, and remembered for many generations to come. Ralph Stanley's high lonesome sound fits in perfectly here and is endlessly effective. Outstanding performances in both categories come from Patty Loveless, Allison Krauss, George Jones, Jimmy Martin, and Emmylou Harris, to name just a few. A concept that works well for Ralph Stanley and his many friends, this is certainly a project that belongs in every bluegrass or gospel collection.