Category: The Stanley Brothers

The Stanley Brothers – The Complete Mercury Recordings

ARTIST: The Stanley Brothers         stanley

TITLE:  The Complete Mercury Recordings

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Most of these tracks were A or B sides of 78’s and 45’s

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Blue Moon of Kentucky, Orange Blossom Special, Angel Band

LINEUP: Ralph Stanley, Carter Stanley, the Clinch Mountain Boys

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Stanley Brothers record bluegrass (mostly gospel with some breakdowns, etc.) for Mercury from 1953-57.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a couple of career bumps, the Stanley Brothers regroup the Clinch Mountain Boys and the result are these bluegrass classics.

Most are gospel songs, but all feature some great picking from Ralph on banjo and some great lead singing by Carter with Ralph on backing. The backing band, usually fiddle, mandolin, guitar and acoustic bass are all ace players as well. You can tell that they influenced romps such as the Louvin Brothers with their singing and subject matter.

There are a lot of original songs here, along with one of the defining versions of “Orange Blossom Special” and the version of “Blue Moon of Kentucky” that used Elvis’ arrangement in a bluegrass style. Their version of “Angel Band” is the defining one for that song.

If you are any way interested in bluegrass, pick this up.


NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bluegrass waned as a popular form in 1958, so they went to Florida to headline a radio show and signed to King Records, and released albums and singles from there.


GRADE: A. Bluegrass as it was, and should be.


The Stanley Brothers – The Complete Columbia Stanley Brothers

ARTIST: The Stanley Brothers
TITLE: The Complete Columbia Stanley BrothersMI0001910129
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation – Recorded 1949-52
SINGLES: All of the songs were singles (on 78!)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Man of Constant Sorrow, Pretty Polly. Lots of bluegrass standards.
LINEUP: Carter Stanley, Ralph Stanley, Clinch Mountain Boys
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: This is the complete 78 output (22 sides) the bluegrass pioneers recorded for Columbia.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you like bluegrass and close harmonies, and I do, this is a wonderful collection. Any modern day bluegrass or traditional country artist owes them a great debt.

The lineup is pretty traditional for bluegrass – guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and bass. Carter sings lead and Ralph adds his wonderful tenor to the proceedings. Most of the songs are original, and either gospel or steeped in traditional folk themes.

I was worried about the sound – since they were released on 78. They sound pretty darn good.

NOTES & MINUTAE: The Stanley Brothers originally recorded for a regional label, but I couldn’t find those recordings in streaming. They have a complete Mercury set streaming that I’ll get to.


GRADE: A : Anyone that even thinks they like bluegrass needs this.