EARLIEST RECORDINGS features 14 songs released as 78s by the duo from 1947 until 1952.
The Stanley Brothers: Carter Stanley (vocals, guitar); Ralph Stanley (vocals, banjo); Jim Williams, Pee Wee Lambert (mandolin); Art Stamper, Leslie Keith, Art Wooten (fiddle); Ray Lambert (bass instrument).
Recording information: 1947 - 1952.
Along with Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys, the Stanley Brothers are one of the greatest of the bluegrass harmony acts. Led by Carter's lead croon and guitar, and abetted by Ralph's high-lonesome tenor and fierce banjo playing, the Stanleys started to lay down their enduring legacy on the Rich-R-Tone in the late 1940s, and those early recordings are captured here on this fine collection.
The material is comprised of a smattering of gospel numbers, as well as songs that would become central to the Stanley Brothers' repertoire (including "Little Maggie" and "The Little Glass of Wine"). There are also a few uptempo bluegrass jams that allow the brothers to show off their chops. Though the sound quality of these historic 78s can occasionally leave something to be desired, that's to be expected (the oldest ones among them date to 1947), and the enjoyment they bring will ultimately outweigh any knee-jerk audiophile reactions.
ReviewsSpin (4/98, p.130) - "...collects 14 ancient sides by these protean explorers of the hot, sad art of bluegrass, complete with an extremely well-researched book that appeals to the Greil Marcus inside us all..."