Clinch Mountain Echo

John's Country Quartet - John's Country Quartet

(Wango LP-104) c1964/5

Side One
Side Two Side One (alternate label) Side Two (alternate label)

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The second of the Wango LPs, this album was mostly recorded in mid-1964 at Ray Davis' radio studio at Johnny's Used Cars in Baltimore.[1]

Whereas the other three Wango albums were pure gospel releases, for this one, under the alias 'John's Country Quartet', Ray Davis asked for "...just the old authentic, original sound" to which Carter replied "I'll be proud to give it to you".

And that's pretty much what it is... The song choices are quite interesting, with several old songs, dusted off and given a new lease of life. Perfomed mostly as a trio, the sound also harks back to the pre-bluegrass era.

Three Carter Family tunes are included, with Will You Miss Me, East Virginia Blues and an instrumental Wildwood Flower performed by George Shuffler. Will You Miss Me was left over from the Dec. 1963 session for the first John's Gospel Quartet session, when Carter had laryngitis. It was the only song he sang on from the session and features shared lead vocals with Ralph

Two songs come from the catalogue of Jimmie Davis who had cut I'll Be True To The One I Love for Decca in 1941[2] and Two More Years And I'll Be Free circa 1939. Fiddlin' Cowen Powers, who played fiddle with The Stanleys had also recorded Wild And Reckless Hobo back in 1926.[3]; Bill and Cliff Carlisle of The Carlisle Brothers seem to have been responsible for No Letter In The Mail Today, Ramshackle Shack On The Hill and Your Saddle Is Empty Old Pal (aka Your Saddle Is Empty Tonight / Riding The Trail (Your Saddle Is Empty Tonight)). Ramshackle Shack On The Hill was also cut by Wade Mainer in 1937, and his version is more likely to be the source of The Stanleys version, as they use a verse heard in the Mainer recording which isn't in the 1933 Carlisle Brothers version ("There's a path that leads back..."). The Stanleys, though, also feature a verse not heard on either the Carlisle Brothers or Mainer records ("Many years I have roamed...").

The Stanleys' had cut No Letter In The Mail Today (as No Letter Roday) for their 1963 Folk Concert LP. Another track to feature on that LP and this Wango release was Pig In A Pen, which was either collected or written by Arthur Smith.

Mountain Pickin', short guitar instrumental which closes the LP, was from one of the Dec. 1963 Radio sessions that the Stanleys recorded for Ray Davis, and later resurfaced listed as Carter's Boogie on the Radio Series Vol. 3 CD.

It's perhaps also worth singling out Ralph's vocal solo on Pretty Polly which is much better than his 1950 version on Columbia, and a sign of things to come.

Originally Ray Davis sold the Wango albums over the air, and they were housed in plain cardboard sleeves. I've seen copies go for $100 or so on ebay, but fortunately the albums have all been reissued, with Wango 104 being reissued as Stanley Brothers Of Virginia, Vol. 2: Long Journey Home on both LP and CD.

It's a shame that all four albums haven't appeared on CD - they would after all easily fit on a double CD set.

The LP has at least two label variations with one being green and the other a blue/green, with a different font for the band name.

Thanks to Todd Gracyk & Tom Payne for the corrections/additional info.


For much more detailed (and accurate) information on these sessions, check Gary B. Reid's The Music Of The Stanley Brothers book, pages 180-183, 173-176, 211-212 and 204-210.

Side One:
Long Journey Home

Will You Miss Me

A.P. Carter
I'll Be True To The One That I Love

Ike Cargill / E. Settlemyer
No Letter In The Mail Today

Bill Carlisle
Pretty Polly

Wildwood Flower

A.P. Carter
Two More Years And I'll Be Free

Jimmie H. Davis/Floyd Tillman
Ramshackle Shack On The Hill

Bill Carlisle / Cliff Carlisle ?
Side Two:
East Virginia Blues

A.P. Carter
Pig In A Pen

P.D. or Arthur Smith?
Your Saddle Is Empty Old Pal

Cliff Carlisle
Nine Pound Hammer

Cluck Old Hen

Wild And Reckless Hobo

Rabbit In A Log

Pete Kirby
Mountain Pickin'

George Shuffler ??

Go To Top Of Page [1] Gary B. Reid's "The Music Of The Stanley Brothers" book (p. 180-183)