Clinch Mountain Echo

John's Country Quartet - John's Country Quartet

(Wango LP-104) c1964/5

Side One
Side Two

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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]; and Bill and Cliff Carlisle of The Carlisle Brothers seem to have been responsible for No Letter In The Mail Today and Ramshackle Shack On The Hill. 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.

Curiously, Osburn Thorpe is credited with Your Saddle Is Empty Old Pal on Ralph's The Bluegrass Sound Of... LP from 1968. As he contributed several songs to that album, and helped finance it. I'm guessing that this was also was one of his compositions, rather than it just being claimed under his name on the '68 release.

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.


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

Osburn Thorpe
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)