Rebel Records has two new entries to announce in its ongoing commitment to digitizing their complete catalog of classic bluegrass and old time music. The label intends to shoot for two new digital releases each month, a real treat for lovers of the old time way.
For October, they have a pair of Ralph Stanley reissues, one each from two important eras with The Clinch Mountain Boys. Old Country Church is an all-Gospel album from 1972 when Ralph had future superstars Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs in tow. The band also included the late, great Roy Lee Centers along with Jack Cooke and Curly Ray Cline.
The album was recorded just a few years after Ralph had returned to performing following the untimely death of the his Stanley Brothers partner, Carter, in 1966. Centers was his lead singer when he first encountered the teenaged Skaggs and Whitley, but added them to the band right away based on their soulful, and dead-on accurate recreation of the early Stanley Brothers sound.
This LP was the second Gospel album for this edition of The Clinch Mountain Boys, following up on the success of Cry From The Cross a year earlier.
Also newly available for downloads is Lonesome and Blue, originally released on Rebel in 1986.
This version of the band featured Charlie Sizemore on lead vocals, and this was his final recorded appearance with Ralph. Junior Blankenship played lead guitar, with Cookie on bass and Curly Ray on fiddle. This group had been together nearly a decade with this lineup, and the sound is polished and tight throughout.
It is interesting to hear how similarly these two versions of The Clinch Mountain Boys sound, though both retain that definitive Stanley vibe: primitive mountain harmony, with smooth three-part chords, and just enough raggedness around the edges to know it was real. Ralph cut these albums live – what you got was what you got.
And they got some great stuff.
Both of these reissues are available wherever bluegrass downloads are sold, including Amazon and iTunes.