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The Very Best of Ralph Stanley

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Album Review

The title of Audium's 2002 release, The Very Best of Ralph Stanley, is a little misleading, and while it is not a genre-spanning, all-encompassing collection of everything the godfather of bluegrass recorded, it does grab 16 very nice recordings from the early to mid-'70s, with one recording jumping out from the year 2000. Stanley's most recognized songs ("Little Maggie," "Rank Stranger," "Man of Constant Sorrow," "O Death") are all represented, as well as some lesser-known gems like "Clinch Mountain Backstep" and the underrated "Katie Daley" (featuring performances by the very youthful Ricky Skaggs on mandolin and Keith Whitley on guitar). Roy Lee Centers, who acted as partner to Ralph Stanley's high-lonesome tenor after Carter Stanley's death ended the Stanley Brothers' career in 1966, features prominently on the album, ably taking lead vocals on nearly half of the songs. The highlight of the album is one of the warmest and most beautiful renditions of the song "Rank Strangers" available in the Stanley catalog, and it alone is worth the price of the disc.

Customer Reviews


one of the greatest folk singers and pickers ever

Very Funky Indeed

This is neat. I like "O Death".

greatr music



Born: February 25, 1927 in Stratton, VA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

While he preferred the term "mountain music" to "bluegrass," Ralph Stanley ranked second only to Bill Monroe in his importance to the genre. A pioneering clawhammer banjoist and riveting singer, Stanley shot to prominence with his brother Carter and the Clinch Mountain Boys in the '40s and '50s. After Carter's death in 1966, Ralph soldiered on, riding waves of popularity in the '60s folk revival and the '70s bluegrass festival scene. In 2000, his a cappella rendering of "O Death" became the musical...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Ralph Stanley