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Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys

Clinch Mountain Gospel – 2001 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys

By the time "Clinch Mountain Gospel" rolled around in 1977, Roy Lee Centers was gone, his untimely passing in 1974 creating a vocal void in the band that Keith Whitley filled in his second stint with the group. Skaggs had already moved on as well, but Jack Cooke and Curly ray Cline were still there, along with Troy "Renfro" Profitt.

Perhaps the best gospel album of Ralph Stanley's career, there are simply no weak cuts at all. From the propulsive picking of the opening, "Over In The Gloryland," to the traditional "Oh, Death" (with Whitley singing above minimal instrumentation, it is a far different version than the a capella Stanley take on "O Brother.") and a call-and-response rendition of "Amazing Grace," the spirit is truly in evidence throughout, making this a powerful musical and religious statement.