Clinch Mountain Echo

Ralph Stanley - Cry From The Cross

(Rebel SLP 1499) 1971

Cry From The Cross
Rear Cover Side One (Early copy) Side Two (Early copy) Side One (Later copy)
Side Two (Later copy) CD Front Cover CD Front Cover CD Tray
Front Cover (Original Japanese Copy) Rear Cover (Original Japanese Copy) Side One (Original Japanese Copy) Side Two (Original Japanese Copy)

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Recorded 22-23rd February 1971 at Roy Homer's basement studio in Clinton, Maryland. This first session by Ralph for Rebel spawned two great albums and won critical acclaim from both 'Muleskinner News' and 'Bluegrass Unlimited'.

Some of the critical acclaim, I'd guess, was possibly due to Roy Lee Centers superb vocals, which are much closer to Carter than the earlier King albums with Larry Sparks.

Ralph had wanted to record a Gospel album, with some a cappella vocals, for some time, [1] so it seems serendipitous that Dick Freeland was there at a time when King/Starday was floundering/defunct, and with the Clinch Mountain Boys having arguably their finest line-up.

The material is largely new, with Cry From The Cross having been previously recorded by The Stanley Brothers for Mercury and Death Is Only A Dream being their first cut for Rich-R-Tone in 1947. (Will He Wait A Little Longer was also cut for Mercury but remained unissued until 1971.)

Two of the cuts are written by J.D. Jarvis:- Take Your Shoes Off Moses and Come On Little Children. J.D. recorded several LPs for Jewel, Rural Rhythm, Down Home and other labels; and was introduced to Ralph by Jimmy Skinner. J.D. in turn introduced Ralph to The Wilson Brothers, and Ralph would stay with J.D. sometimes when they were on the road. [2] In 1969 Ralph and the CMB's also helped J.D. record his More Bluegrass Gospel Songs LP, albeit anonymously, which also included a version of Come On Little Children.

'Cry From The Cross' is also somewhat of a 'landmark' for its cover:-

Ralph:- "We used to pass by this roadside cross on Lee Highway in Northern Virginia, not far from the Big K radio station where Tomcat Reeder was the disc jockey for so many years. We used to play a club up the highway, Partners II, close by Centreville, so we'd see see that cross a lot. It was one of those sights you always look for when you're traveling like a signpost... The cross stood high in a cemetary on top of a hill, and it was rigged up with electricity so at night it was lit up like a Christmas tree." [3]

Ricky Skaggs:- "We were all lined up in our stage suits on a hill under a huge cross, and it was a cold and windy day. Curly was about to have a fit like he was gonna freeze to death, sayng he felt like Hitler having to stand there ramrod straight and serious." [4]

The album was also issued in Japan with a different cover (Seven Seas SR-669) 1971 and a foldout LP sized insert / lyric sheet. Later Japanese copies featured the standard Rebel cover with OBI strip.

'Cry From The Cross' has been reissued as part of the Rebel 4xCD 1971-1973 box set [5] and again on CD with excellent liner notes from Gary Reid (Rebel REB-CD-1499) 2001. Originals seem to cost an 'arm & a leg'...

Thanks to Chris Wing for the scans of the CD artwork.

(*) Cliff Waldron and Jack Cooke 'hand claps' on Take Your Shoes Off, Moses, with Ed Ferris on bass.

Side One:
Cry From The Cross

Johnnie Masters
You're Drifting On

C. Stanley / R. Stanley
Will He Wait A Little Longer

C. Stanley / R. Stanley
Bright Morning Star

Death Is Only A Dream

C.W. Ray / A.J. Buchanan
Come On Little Children

J.D. Jarvis
Side Two:
Take Your Shoes Off Moses

J.D. Jarvis
Stairway To Heaven

Bill Grant
I Am The Man Thomas

Larry Sparks / R. Stanley
Step Out In The Sunshine

Lizzie De Armond / Chas. W. Vaughan
Sinner Man

Two Coats


Go To Top Of Page [1] Ralph Stanley / Eddie Dean's book "Man Of Constant Sorrow" (p. 293-4)
[2] See and
In J.D.'s obituary in 'Bluegrass Unlimited' April 2011 (p.17-18) it mentions that the CMB's were featured on some of J.D.'s albums... So far I think the only one to include Ralph is More Bluegrass Gospel Songs. Others sometimes feature former CMB's like Paul 'Moon' Mullins, Art Stamper and Joe Isaacs.
One more curiosity - both J.D. Jarvis and Ralph Stanley have BMI song credits for What Kind Of Man (Jesus Is) which Ralph first recorded in 1968 on his Over The Sunset Hill LP (credited on BMI to Ralph & Larry Sparks) and J.D. recorded with Rusty York on 'Bluegrass Gospel Songs' (Rural Rhythm) 1968 (credited on BMI to J D Jarvis). They're pretty much identical, though the Jarvis version has less lyrics.
It's sobering to think that J.D. was one of the first people to hit the beach in the 'D' day landings in Normany, and that he was wounded three times liberating Europe. Curly Rays brother Ireland 'Ned' Cline was killed on 'D' day at the same beach.
[3] Ralph Stanley / Eddie Dean's book "Man Of Constant Sorrow" (p. 297)
[4] Ricky Skaggs / Eddie Dean's book "The Kentucky Traveler" (p.117)
[5] On the box set the tracks are presented in the order they are recorded, so you'll need to either programme your CD player, or burn a custom disc to hear the original sequence.