We have lauded several times the efforts of Rebel and County Records in getting their deep back catalog into digital distribution. They have been recording bluegrass and old time music since the early 1960s, and have several hundred titles between them, many of them classics.
Two more will be available from online MP3 audio resellers on February 22, 40 years to the day from when Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys first tracked in the studio for Rebel.
Something Old, Something New is as close to definitive of the early ’70s Stanley sound as any of his records, perhaps along with Plays Requests, which hit in 1972. It featured Roy Lee Centers on lead vocals and guitar, Jack Cooke on bass, Curly Ray Cline on fiddle and teenagers Keith Whitley on lead guitar and Ricky Skaggs on mandolin. If there has ever been a more plaintive trio or quartet than this is old time bluegrass, I’ve yet to hear it.
The album features some brilliant bits as Katy Daley, Going To Georgia and Will You Miss Me (with Whitley taking up the classic George Shuffler guitar lick from the Stanley Brothers recording). There are also original versions of a few that have been re-popularized in more recent days: Shotgun Slade, memorably cut by Junior Sisk, and Cluck Old Hen, which Ron Block has made into a banjo standard with Alison Krauss.
My own favorites from this album may be Centers singing Brand New Tennessee Waltz and Lonesome Old Song. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. If it’s not in your library, there is a hole in your bluegrass education!
Here is a very different edition of the Clinch Mountain Boys, featuring a young Charlie Sizemore on lead vocals and Junior Blankenship on lead guitar, along with veterans Cline and Cooke. Standout tracks include Mountain Preacher’s Child, Walking Up This Hill on Decoration Day and I’ll Wear a White Robe.
Both of these fine records will be available wherever digital downloads are sold starting on February 22.
In March, Rebel plans digital releases from A.L. Wood & The Smokey Ridge Boys and Bill Grant & Delia Bell.