Clinch Mountain Echo

Cumberland Highlanders - Cumberland Mountain Home

With special guest Dr. Ralph Stanley

(Black Mountain Records BMR-9901) 2000.


Cumberland Mountain Home
Rear Cover CD Tray

Average Album Rating: 4

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This splendid bluegrass album was recorded between 27th March - 15th November 1999 and features unique vocal combinations on a few tracks, with Ralph singing tenor and either Russell or Curnie Wilson or Wayne Lewis singing lead.

Russell and Curnie Wilson aka The Wilson Brothers, had a vocal sound very similiar in feel to the Stanley Brothers, so it is a real treat to hear them with Ralph. Add to the mix four former Bluegrass Boys (Tater Tate, Wayne Lewis & Jimmy Campbell; Billy Rose), and together with the other early Cumberland regulars, you just know this album won't disappoint.

The album features varying vocal combinations on each track, but instrumentally the Cumberland Highlanders revolve around:-

Ralph is featured on four cuts:- Russell Wilson's Lost Sinner's Prayer, where Ralph sings just a refrain but with a knockout effect similiar to his vocal part on Rank Strangers; the Stanleys' Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday with Wayne Lewis on lead; Carter Stanley's Harbor Of Love which reunites The Wilson Brothers and where Ralph and Russell share tenor; and The Stanley's Will Sing Again which The Wilson Brothers featured on Ralph's 1983 Live At The Old Homeplace album.

At the time this album was recorded, Curnie Snr. and Russell Wilson had not performed together for almost two decades. Curnie was present in the control booth, and was asked to sing with Russell on Rejoice With Mom And Dad. Curnie also sings on Harbor Of Love....

From the 'Harbor Of Love' track notes:- "We dedicate this Carter Stanley song to Jimmi Stanley, Ralph's wife. Towards the end of the recording sessions, Ralph noticed Big Curnie sitting in the control room with Jimmi and two or three other people. Ralph turned to me and said 'Why don't we get Curnie to sing with me?' I agreed. I, along with countless other folks, had dreamed of hearing Curnie sing a song with Ralph Stanley. Curnie graciously said he would love to, but that he was really there to support us, and he knew we had other material to work on.
After Ralph added that he'd wanted to sing with Curnie Wilson for the last 30 years, Curnie said he'd do it. Then Curnie turned to Jimmi and asked her what her favorite Stanley Brother song was. She replied, 'Harbor Of Love'.
So here we were at the end of the day, recording this great song. I decided to go for broke, and asked Russell to sing tenor on the second chorus, while Ralph took the first and third, and Tate Tate sang bass. And I got to sing baritone with that line up! Well, that's how it happened, and now we've got the only song in existence with both Wilson Brothers and Ralph Stanley singing on the same song."
- Campbell Mercer

Also featured on the CD is a version of Carter & Ralph's Hey, Hey, Hey and Carter's The Old Home with Doc Mercer, his wife Julie and Russell Wilson on vocals.

Aside from the Stanley connected tracks, there's Campbell's instrumental Rough Creek Ramble aka the theme tune to RFD-TV's 'Cumberland Highlander Show'; Russell Wilson's What More Do You Need?, a Gospel gem; Bill Monroe's Little Community Church; the Monroesque mandolin instrumental Big Black Mountain; and several more decent cuts.

In my humble opinion, Doc Mercer doesn't get the credit he's due. I doubt the Jersusalem Ridge festival in Bill Monroe's homeplace would exist without him and neither would 'The Cumberland Highlanders' TV show. That weekly programme on RFD-TV is a fabulous slice of authentic bluegrass, yet barely gets acknowledged in mainstream bluegrass media and is strangely conspicious by it's absence year after year at the IBMA awards. We used to get the TV show here in the UK circa 2009, and it was the highlight of the viewing week. Unfortunately RFD-TV stopped broadcasting in the UK, but I still subscribe to the RFD-TV Country Club every so often, where I can binge on back-episodes...

The 'Black Mountain Records' version of the CD features a 20-page booklet, with lots of info, quotes and pictures. The CD was I believe reissued on CD (Rural Rhythm RHY-1014) 2000(?), but both are out of print.... This is one of those CD's that you rarely see offered at a reasonable price, but it's defintely worth picking up, as long as it doesn't cost an arm & a leg.

Campbell Mercer: "Ralph likes to say that I've given him more 'bull' than anyone in the music business. So I gave him a cow to match."

Track:
Title:
CD:
(49:36)
1
Cumberland Mountain Home

Campbell Mercer
2
What More Do You Need?

Russell Wilson
3
Rough Creek Ramble

Campbell Mercer
4
Shackles And Chains

Jimmie H. Davis
5
Lost Sinner's Prayer

Rusell Wilson
6
Hey, Hey, Hey

C. Stanley / R. Stanley
7
Rejoice With Mom And Dad

Russell Wilson
8
Little Community Church

Bill Monroe
9
Big Black Mountain

Campbell Mercer
10
I've Lived A Lot

P.D.
11
I Looked Down That Road

P.D.
12
Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday

Syd Nathan / Arthur Q. Smith
13
Harbor Of Love

C. Stanley
14
The Old Home

C. Stanley
15
The Stanleys Will Sing Again

Russell Wilson

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