This post is a contribution from Richard Thompson, a founding member of the British Bluegrass Music Association, and a semi-regular correspondent and contributor for Bluegrass Today. He is also a longstanding contributor to British Bluegrass News, a quarterly print publication where he also briefly served as editor.
Time-Life will release a three-CD boxed set from the Stanley Brothers in April. The Definitive Collection: 1947-1966 marks the 60th anniversary of the first recordings that Carter and Ralph Stanley did together and includes three previously unreleased tracks and three songs never before available on a CD. Highlights include The White Dove, Rank Strangers, How Mountain Girls Can Love, Pretty Polly and O Death. The project includes a special introduction by Ricky Skaggs and a biographical essay written by historian Gary Reid of Copper Creek Records, and also features many rare photos.
The Definitive Collection: 1947-1966 comprises 60 tracks in all. The previously unreleased cuts are all live recordings: Will You Be Loving Another Man – ca. 1955 – is from a performance at Bean Blossom, Indiana, Sugar Coated Love was recorded on July 4, 1961, at Oak Leaf Park in Luray, Virginia, and is a Carter Stanley/Bill Monroe duet and Tell Me Why My Daddy Don’t Come Home is from an August 1962 personal appearance at the Ash Grove in Hollywood, California.
The recordings new to CD include Hide Ye In The Blood, from the Wango archives, and Dust on the Bible from the Cabin Creek LP (CC 203). The booklet comprises 39 pages, with lots of photographs, including several that have never been published before.
Gary Reid shared a few comments about this new box set, and how he came to be involved.
“I had done some previous work with Time-Life in helping to put together their Classic Bluegrass Collection, an 8-CD/120 song collection that is being sold on half-hour infomercials on various TV stations. While working on that project, my point man at Time-Life, Joe Sasfy, told me of the label’s desire to do a career retrospective on the music of the Stanley Brothers.
While there have been boxed set collections on the music of Carter and Ralph, they have tended to document a certain era of their career (ie, the Mercury years, or the Starday and King years). This is the first collection to feature a complete overview from start to finish. In picking the tunes, we obviously wanted to get the essential tracks (ie, The White Dove, The Fields Have Turned Brown, Angel Band, Man of Constant Sorrow, etc.) but we also wanted to get some obscure things that even the most die-hard Stanley collectors wouldn’t have.”
Gary also mentioned that Ralph Stanley is aware of this retrospective, but had no hand in selecting the songs or photos.
Time-Life shows April 3, 2007 as the release date, and it will be available on their web site, and surely from other bluegrass resellers as well.