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Ralph Stanley

Man of Constant Sorrow – 2000 (Rebel)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

With more than 100 albums to his credit, there is no shortage of material to include in a Ralph Stanley compilation album. Released to coincide with the film, "O Brother Where Art Thou," and the exposure it will give to old-tyme and bluegrass music, this CD is a collection of Stanley classics. Many of the songs here are included in the movie's soundtrack, performed by Stanley or others.

Movie or no movie, this album can stand on its own. Many of the songs have long been associated with Stanley, including, "Going Up Home To Live In Green Pastures," "Oh Death," "Man of Constant Sorrow," "I've Just Seen The Rock of Ages" and "Angel Band." Sorrow, hard times and dying are themes that tie the songs together. The music is taken from the 1970's and early 1980's, and includes different iterations of Stanley's Clinch Mt. Boys band. A number of the cuts feature the late Keith Whitley on lead vocals.

Ralph Stanley has recorded so many great songs over the years that it's hard to say that any one album contains the definitive material of his career. That said, this CD provides a nice overview of the Stanley sound and of some of his most enduring work.