Clinch Mountain Echo

Ralph Stanley - Live In Seattle - 1969

(Stanley Family Records 75531-01487) 2018


Live At The Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival, Maine 1987
Rear Cover L-R: Curly Ray Cline, Barney Munger, Ralph, Larry Sparks

Average Album Rating: 4.33
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This 2xCD set features a live performance by Ralph from 27th May 1969 at the University Of Washington in Seattle. The gig was the penultimate show in a 4-5 week tour of the West Coast that was organised by Steve Waller (Sawtooth Mountain Boys)[1] and which included dates in Hollywood, Santa Barbara, California and La Grande, Oregon.[2]

Sound quality is pretty good and it's great to have a complete show with two sets and a total running time of 1 hr 34 mins, even though Ralph's vocal occassionally sounds a bit fatigued, and a couple of numbers during the 'request' section are a bit sloppy. Having said that, at the time of the recording Larry Sparks and Curly Ray Cline had been with Ralph for a couple of years, and the band were generally on top form. Larry Sparks lays down some excellent lead guitar work, and Curly Ray and Ralph were a hard combination to beat at this time.

Melvin Goins the regular bassist was absent from this gig, with local musician Barney Munger filling in. According to a stage announcement by Ralph, Melvin was sick and had to stay behind in Kentucky. Melvin later gave the date he left Ralph as 18th May 1969,[3] just four days before this gig, so it's possible that he may have done some of earlier tour dates.

This recording was also made about 6 weeks before the Carlton Haney' Berryville festival performance that was partially released on the Live at Watermelon Park CD. It's not surprising then that there is a degree of overlap in the song selection / dialogue. The Watermelon park set probably has the edge sound-wise, but is now quite hard to find. This Seattle show does have the advantage, however, of being recorded in stereo and with all the dialogue seemingly intact.

At the time of the gig I Only Exist and My Long Skinny Lanky Sarah Jane had yet to be recorded by Ralph, and were later cut for the Hills Of Home LP a few weeks later in 14-15th July 1969. Four songs are also feature on Ralph's first two solo King LP's with Lost Train, Hemlock And Primroses being from Brand New Country Songs and Going Up Home To Live In Green Pastures and What Kind Of Man from Over The Sunset Hill. The remaining song selection is drawn largely from the Stanley Brothers' catalogue and Curly Ray's ...And His Lonesome Pine Fiddle debut LP.

A large proportion of the second set consists of requests, and it's noteworthy that Ralph turns down a request for Footprints In The Snow saying "We don't know the Footprints In The Snow", when the lyrics for it are included in his recently produced 'Song & Picture Folio No. 1' which he advertises heavily at the end of the first set!

The 'Songbook Sales Pitch' is also interesting as Ralph goes through the pictures at the front of the booklet, giving a few details on each of them, and cracks a joke about a fictional picture of Curly Ray (which must have been refering to either fan club president/vice president Fay McGinnis / Norma Fannin, as aside from a group pic. Curly Ray doesn't otherwise figure in the photos).

Overall this another welcome archive release on Ralph II's 'Stanley Family Records'. Let's hope there's more to come!!

The 2xCD set comes housed in a three-fold card sleeve, with liner notes by Gary Reid, and can be obtained from CDBaby.com.
(If buying from the UK however, be aware that CDBaby will declare the full customs value and with Royal Mail's handling fee, you can expect to pay a surcharge of 12.25 or so for Customs/Handling.)

One cut from the album, Clinch Mountain Breakdown can also be found on youtube.

Track:
Title:
CD One:
(40:21)
1
Pig In A Pen

P.D. or Arthur Smith?
2
Lost Train

Curly Ray Cline / Arthur Smith
3
Don't Step Over An Old Love

Fred Stryker
4
Little Maggie

P.D.
5
Long Journey Home

P.D.
6
Black Mountain Blues

Leslie Keith
7
Going Up Home To Live In Green Pastures

Avril Gearheart / R. Stanley
8
What Kind Of Man

R. Stanley / Larry sparks
9
I Only Exist

Joyce Morris / Jimmie Stanley
10
My Long Skinny Lanky Sarah Jane

R. Stanley
11
Clinch Mountain Backstep

Ruby Rakes
12
Songbook Sales Pitch

N/A
CD Two:
(54:13)
1
How Mountain Girls Can Love

Ruby Rakes
2
Hemlock And Primroses

Landon Messer
3
Little Birdie

P.D.
4
Daybreak In Dixie

Bill Napier
5
Rank Stranger

Albert E. Brumley
6
Gonna Paint The Town

R. Stanley
7
Hard Times

R. Stanley
8
Angel Band

Jefferson Hascall / William B. Bradbury
9
Big Tilda

R. Stanley
10
Stone Walls And Steel Bars

Ray Pennington / Roy E. Marcum
11
Orange Blossom Special

Ervin T. Rouse
12
How Far To Little Rock

Ruby Rakes
13
Pretty Polly / Wild Bill Jones

P.D.
14
I'm A Man Of Constant Sorrow

R.D. Burnett
15
Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms

P.D.
16
Roanoke

Bill Monroe (aka Joe Ahr)
17
Closing Remarks

N/A
18
Think Of What You've Done

C. Stanley

Go To Top Of Page [1] Ralph Stanley comments dedicating Daybreak In Dixie to Steve Waller on the 5th July Afternoon show at Watermelon Park, Berryville Va. Ralph:- "I'd like to do it for a real good friend of ours,, that we've been knowing know for a few years. Steve Waller, lives out on the West Coast. The last 4 or 5 weeks and he led us all over the state of Oregon and Washington and I don't where we're all (be) if it hadn't a been for Steve, I guess we'd a been lost yet." http://frobbi.org/audio/landreth/Berryville1969/BV69104Stanley03.html
[2] Album liner notes by Gary Reid.
[3] Melvin left 18th May 1969 - liner notes to The Goins Brothers - Bluegrass Hits Old & New (REM LP-1041) 1969