King Records boss Syd Nathan hated bluegrass fiddle; at his insistence the two guitar sound, often featuring the fancy crosspicking of Bill Napier and then George Shuffler, became more prominent. Napier's hot, punchy mandolin is also fetured on the sides for Starday and the early King sessions, along with the great Chubby Anthony on fiddle.
The inimitable elements of the classic Stanley Bros. Box includes a well researched, informative page booklet and discography by Gary Reid, and the sound is fine, certainly better than on the myriad reissue LPs issued in the 70s. The Definitive Collection, Three CDs, 60 tracks,highly recommended This could have been rated as essential but I'm a little peeved that they didn't put more material on.
The 60 tracks here could have fitted on two CDs so why not add another 15 tracks and really give us a deal? That being said, this is I Still Write Your Name In The Sand - Various - Thirty Years Of Bluegrass beautiful retrospective covering the Stanley's entire recording career from their first sides for Rich-R-Tone in through their last King sessions in the year Carter died.
It includes tracks from Columbia, Mercury, Starday and King along with material from radio broadcasts and live performances. The earliest Rich-R-Tone sides are deeply steeped in the mountain music of their youth though by the later sessions, probably due to the influence of Bill Monroe, their music evolved into what we think of as bluegrass though their music was always imbued with that strong Vingt Ans - Léo Ferré - 1969 Récital En Public À Bobino influence that continues to this day in the work of Ralph Stanley and is considered the "high lonesome sound.
From on they recorded for Starday and later King which took over the Starday label. King owner Syd Nathan hated the fiddle and so a number of the King recordings feature more emphasis on the guitar - first by Carter and then later by the superb George Shuffler whose distinctive "cross-pickinG" style was another contribution the Stanleys made to bluegrass. The I Still Write Your Name In The Sand - Various - Thirty Years Of Bluegrass disc include some radio and live concert recordings including three previously unissued including a truly dlightful rendition of Sugar Lonely Studio - LiL JaBBA - Grotto Love where the Stanleys are joined on vocal by Bill Monroe.
In spite my reservations about playing time there is no doubt that this a magnificent collection with terrific sound - even the notoriously poorly recorded Rich-R-Tones sound good, and informative notes by compiler Gary Reid. This B. Patti Page and Sue Thompson had the goods to break into pop music, while obese Chicago bandleader Tiny Hill, who married Jenny Lou Carson, went the other way, abandoning mainstream pop for hardcore honky-tonk and eventual obscurity.
Other acts captured on Merc 78s include harmonica whiz Lonnie Glosson, take-off lead guitarist Homer Briarhopper and the tragically short-lived singer Art Gibson. Tommy Jackson began his decade-long quest to record the great American fiddlers' repertoire at Mercury, eventually finishing at Dot.
Memphis singer Eddie Hill's Foleyesque cover of Steamboat Stomp blindsides casual listeners by unexpectedly incorporating a bop instrumental break quoting Holiday for Strings and Laura. They were great, too. Martin Hawkins contributes all-too-brief notes; sound quality is generally good though some tracks suffer from B. Will they [B]ever[D] learn? No, not every cut here is a gem, but none could be considered awful, either. On the whole, this is a fun disc that's perfect for road trips. Shit Happens!
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