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Ralph Stanley

Old-Time Pickin' A Clawhammer Banjo Collection – 2008 (Rebel)

Reviewed by John Walker

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After more than 50 years of pickin' and singing, Dr. Ralph Stanley's legend continues to grow. Stanley is widely renowned for his clawhammer banjo picking, which he picked up as a child in the hills of Virginia. With brother Carter doing most of the singing, they formed a powerful presence in traditional music. It was not until the death of Carter, that Ralph's own vocal prowess began to emerge.

Stanley's tenor vocals truly shine in harmony here with Charlie Sizemore in Pretty Girls, City Lights and then really kicks in the second half of the CD as he sings Little Birdie, Bound To Ride, Married Life Blues and Black-Eyed Susie. It does not hurt to have some of the best instrumentalists to support you either.

The 18 songs mark the first time Stanley's clawhammer classics were gathered together. With a pleasing mixture of instrumentals, original songs previously released in the 1970's and 1980's plus 9 other songs previously unavailable on CD, this is a must have for any lover of traditional mountain music.