Sunday, July 22, 2007


Review: The Stanley Brothers - The Definitive Collection (1947 - 1966)

The Stanley Brothers Definitive Collection

Howdy Real Country Music Fans,

Time for Gran'pa to take a break from the summertime chores of mowing the lawn and tending to the vegetable garden. You know there's just something nice about planting some corn and beefsteak tomatoes and tending to them and knowing that in a few weeks, you'll savor those things just a tad bit more. The cucumbers are coming in just great, too!

Now where do you start when you start talking about such a group like the Stanley Brothers and listening to a 'definitive collection'. This set was released in April of 2007, on the 60th anniversary of their first studio recordings. Now the fact that someone thought there music was good enough for all you folks out there to hear their legendary music six decades later ought to tell you something. Good music lasts for generations and defies demographics.

Recently, we got to hear their tunes in that movie "O Brother Where Art Thou?". I just shake my head and chuckle though to think someone like a George Clooney is doing a movie with old time country music classics weaved into the story.

Now let's talk about the music in this collection. There's three CD's with a total of 60 recordings to enjoy. It was a lot of fun to listen to their original tunes Gran'pa had heard by other artists previously. Some I had never heard by the Stanley Brothers before. Remember Ricky Skaggs' versions of such tunes as "Don't Cheat in Our Home Town" or "If That's The Way You Feel"? You can then see the influence on Ricky I think in the way he handled those and included great harmonies on the choruses, not just voices singing together.

Stanley Brothers - Definitive Collection

You get to hear the tune the Soggy Mountain Boys gave a rousing rendition to in the movie - "Man of Constant Sorrow". There's tunes associated with Hall of Famer, Bill Monroe as well - "Blue Moon of Kentucky", "Molly and Tenbrooks". I enjoyed tunes like "Orange Blossom Special" (never get tired of hearing how other folks add their touch to that tune); "Angel Band"; "Will You Be Loving Another Man" (I first enjoyed this tune when I discovered an old Lester Flatt and Mac Wiseman album on RCA when some ages ago I was getting a higher education of some sorts.); "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms" and "Rank Stranger".

Now if the music wasn't enough, they've included a great 40 page color booklet of biographical information and photos. I bow to the level of detail they include in the chronological history of this storied and revered group. The booklet includes the recording details of each tune.

Because ole Gran'pa's sidekick runs this hear hillbilly music web site, we have to include a quote attributed to Carter Stanley in describing their musical efforts as the term "bluegrass music" had not been invented back then.

" I think anytime that you play a good song, to me it's hillbilly music. The Carter Family played good hillbilly music and they're definitely not bluegrass, and J. E. Mainer played good hillbilly music and he's not bluegrass, and I don't figure we're bluegrass. We're the Stanley Brothers, that's the way I've always tried to work it... we have gotten out, I think, and developed a sound of our own."

Before I get to ramblin' on ole Gran'pa just wants to add another note. The dozens of tunes on this CD I found to be quite a treat. Every time I put one in the car to drive around town or going back and forth to work, playing them at random, it just felt like I'd discover another gem or treat to listen to and even repeat the song. Legends don't get to be known as legends for nothing - they earned and deserve their status.

Gran'pa H.M. Crittick

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