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Complete Columbia Stanley Brothers

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 Mar. 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Bmg Special Markets
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,797 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. C. N. Downes on 2 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the entire collection of the Stanley Brothers on the Columbia label, in their early days of bluegrass music. Carter Stanley learned to play the guitar as a young lad, while Ralph Stanley also learned to play the banjo, which his mother showed him the clawhammer style. By 1948 Ralph had played the three finger style, and with Carter, they had formed a bluegrass band and had acquired a contract with Columbia records.These are brilliant songs such as "White Dove", "Little glass of wine", "The fields have turned brown" and "I'm a man of constant sorrow", but in fact, all of the twenty-two songs on this CD is well worth having, for the Stanley Brothers were among the best of all the bands in the 1950's. Carter Stanley died in 1966, but Ralph still records great bluegrass and is still one of the finest.
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By Chakka on 29 July 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This shows just how good the Stanley Brothers were right at the very beginning of their recording career and has to be a 'must have' for every Stanley Brothers and Bluegrass follower.
Go buy!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N. Sands on 5 Aug. 2009
Format: Audio CD
This, along with the Rich-a-Tone recordings are a must have for any bluegrass fan- you simply can't be without them! They don't get any better than this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 30 reviews
60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Heartbreakingly beautiful music 21 Dec. 2001
By Robert Moore - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
While both Carter and Ralph Stanley are musical treasures of the first rank, I have to confess that Ralph Stanley is my favorite bluegrass performer, and one of my favorite singers of any musical genre. Both brothers possessed prodigious musical gifts (anyone doubting Ralph's genius need only listen to his stunning a capella rendition of "O Death" on the O BROTHER WHERE ARE THOU? soundtrack to bring about a revision of their opinion), so it is almost impossible to imagine a greater bluegrass singing voice than these brothers. There is such a depth of forlorn despair and loneliness in their singing that when I hear them I always think of an anecdote about Franz Kafka. Max Brod was shocked by the deep nihilism of Kafka's view of God and the world, and asked him, given his bleak outlook, whether there was any hope in the world. Kafka replied, "Oh, plenty of hope, an infinite amount of hope--but not for us."

Given the religious tinge of the Stanley Brothers' music, it is clear that they believe in hope beyond this world, but in their music and especially in Ralph Stanley's magnificently despairing voice, you know that there is hope only in death.

These are songs about loss, despair, sadness, hopelessness, and the futility of life. They are cathartic expressions of deep suffering, acknowledgements that we were born to suffer.

Until recently, the Stanley Brothers were the least known of the three great performers in the history of bluegrass, lagging somewhat behind Bill Monroe on the one hand and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs on the other. But many, and I confess that I am one of them, prefer the Stanley Brothers to the other two. My belief is that bluegrass is a musical genre best served by the human voice, and not by the guitar or the banjo or fiddle. And in the world of bluegrass, it is impossible to surpass the incredible singing of Carter and Ralph Stanley.

The unanticipated success of the soundtrack of O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? may acquaint many previously unfamiliar with the Stanley Brothers with their incredible artistry. The connections between the Stanley Brothers and that movie are many... During the closing credits, the great Stanley Brothers standard "The Angel Band" is played. And the central song in the movie, "I'm a Man of Constant Sorrow," is the Stanley Brothers arrangement of the traditional song.

I loved the music from the movie, and "I'm a Man of Constant Sorrow" in particular, but as fine as the movie version was, it pales in comparison with Ralph Stanley's rendition. Dan Tyminski does a fine job singing in the movie, but his is almost swaggering compared with Ralph's version. Tyminski sounds feisty, bold, almost defiant, whereas Ralph's voice is the perfect embodiment of all the sorrow, pain, and resignation contained in the lyrics of the song. Tyminski doesn't really sound all that much like a man of constant sorrow; Ralph Stanley sounds like nothing else. Tyminski sings the song; Ralph wails it.

Anyone with any serious interest in bluegrass already owns this album, but I believe that anyone with any interest in music in general needs to be intimately acquainted with it as well. This is great music. It is also quite possibly the saddest, most mournful music that has ever been recorded.

Just a word about about vocal credits. On almost all songs the two brothers sang together, but nominally Carter is listed as the lead singer. But for the "rough" songs (like "A Man of Constant Sorrows") they would employ Ralph on the solos. In fact, just about all of the solos are by Ralph, even though Carter is listed as the lead singer. I was confused about a lot of this for a long time, but Ralph Stanley straightened it out on an interview he did with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air." Paradoxically, Carter Stanley was the lead singer on most of their songs even while Ralph took on most of the solos, especially ones where they wanted the rough sound.
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Great Bluegrass Classics Done In The Original Stanley Sound 12 Mar. 2000
By W. David Ferrell - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is a real gem! There is not a wasted space on this CD. The songs are classics from the late 1940's and Bluegrass Music was, in name at least, a new thing. Ralph and Carter Stanley had just been signed with the major label, Columbia Records which also had Bill Monroe, the Father Of Bluegrass, at the time. In fact, Monroe was so angry at Columbia for signing the Stanleys, who he felt had "stolen" his sound, that he left Columbia and signed with Decca (which later became MCA). Now, for the music, which on this collection, speaks for itself... "Have You Someone In Heaven Awaiting", "Gathering Flowers For The Master's Boquet", "The White Dove", "Pretty Polly" and the original version of "Man Of Constant Sorrow" make this CD well worth buying, but it doesn't stop there. There are 22 timeless classics here and every one is as good as the last. While the Stanleys hadn't quite developed their signature sound yet, this is the music that started that sound and as you listen to the CD, which seems to be put together in pretty much the order the songs were recorded, you can hear that sound develop. If you are a Stanley Brothers fan, or just a Bluegrass fan in general, you will love this cd.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Exquisite 24 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
In describing the magnitude of this album's impact I can only liken it to a fragment of the holy cross. Ralph and Carter were young and fresh, yet their voices already carried the weight of the legacy which they would one day carry as members of the bluegrass triumvirate. Carter's singing in particular is the finest I have heard on record. The Clinch Mountain Boys at the time of these recordings were also first rate, especially the high baritone singing and mandolin playing of Pee Wee Lambert. The songs on this album are the rosetta stone of the Stanley repertoire - and include titles such as Sweethearts in Heaven and The Lonesome River. It is a joy to listen to these recordings and hear in them the emotion and depth that still infuses Ralph Stanley's music today. An absolute must for all fans of the Stanley Sound. These songs will take you back to the hills of southwestern Virginia and the world that gave us Carter and Ralph Stanley.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
22 timeless classics ! 1 April 2001
By P. D. Laffey - Published on
Format: Audio CD
22 Bluegrass classics performed by the legendary Stanley Brothers , how on earth can you go wrong with this cd . These songs were recorded for Columbia records between 1949 and 1952 and believe me , every one of them is a timeless masterpiece .
All the songs have a world weary pathos to them made more solemn by the sad and lonesome harmonies of the brothers . The songs are about murder , family bereavement , unrequited love and other bleak subjects that we humans have to suffer on earth , but far from being grim they all have a haunting beauty to them that makes these records transcend any musical genre to become profound statements on the human condition .
Beautiful and haunting !
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Carter's song. 23 April 2003
By "chasartt" - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I know that carter wrote man of constant sorrow
but I never heard him sing it. other than to help
out on the chorus. I know he wrote the song for
Ralph. it has to be just a sample of what Carter
was capable of writing and Ralph's voice out shines
any soul singer I have ever heared.
I grew up in dickenson county about five miles from
Carter and Ralph so they have been my heros since
the late fortys. as far as I'm concerned Carter
Stanley was and still is the greatest (singer)that
ever lived bar none.
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