Clinch Mountain Echo

Ralph Stanley - Stanley Brothers Classics

Introducing James King

(Wango 118) 1986


Stanley Brothers Classics
Rear Cover Side One Side Two

Although this is quite a short album[1] it is a gem, consisting of reworkings of old Stanley Brothers classics, about half of which haven't been re-recorded by Ralph before or since.

The album was recorded on a 2-track stereo by Ray Davis, between 8th - 9th December 1985. No location is given, but on the 7th they were advertised as playing Centreville, VA.[2] approximately 300 miles from James King's hometown of Cana, VA.

Despite, or perhaps because, the album was only recorded on 2-tracks, it has a vibrant 'live' feel too it. Eddie Stubbs (of Johnson Mountain Boys) does a great job standing in for Curly Ray, and James King's vocals are smooth as silk.

For students of Ralph's banjo style, this is also a corker of an album, as his backing is nice and clear.

James later commented on the album:- "That first one is for the history books as far as I'm concerned - on Ralph's part. I didn't do much, but Ralph picked his tail off. Ralph did really good on that record. Charlie Sizemore told me that he had never seen him pick like that in the ten years he picked music with him until that night, down in the basement. Ray Davis encouraged all of that. Ralph had him a little drink of Jack Daniels and decided he was going to pick. You listen to that record. He absolutely, positively sang tenor and played the banjo the best I'd ever heard it in a while. You listen to 'Nobody's Love Is Like Mine' on that record. It was done in one take. We did it one time. He is absolutely busting the five-string on that. And then we recorded 'Let Me Be Your Friend' the next day and, buddy, he was on fire"[3]

James later appeared with Ralph and George Shuffler in 1987, an event which was captured for posterity on the Reunion CD. Nowadays, he's more well known as the 'Bluegrass Storyteller' with several successful albums on Rounder, and as a founding member of bluegrass supergroup Longview.

The album was reissued on CD in 1997 (WANGOCD103) with the additon of two tracks (Nobody's Love Is Like Mine and What About You) and slightly resequenced.[4] The CD liner notes are worth repeating:

James King credits Ray Davis with giving him his first big break in Bluegrass. They met as they sat around a camp-site at the Delaware Bluegrass festival with Ted Lundy and Jimmy Martin. When Ray spoke, James recognised his voice instanly as the Stanley Brothers' radio show announcer. "Jimmy Martin was right in the middle of a sentence and I just cut him right off and looked at Ray. That voice... you're Ray Davis... Stanley Brothers ON The Air... Wango 116... 'From Live Oak, Florida, to the streets of Baltimore...'," James States.

Following that encounter, they became friends. James visisted Ray at his home and would hang out with him at various Bluegrass festivals. He would usually end up singing a Stanley song and wondering if Ray thought that Ralph might ever let him sing one with him on stage. Carter and Ralph were his heroes!

Ray eventually arranged for James not only to sing on-stage with Ralph but to record this album with him that very same night and the following day. (December 8th and 9th, 1985)
And the rest... as they say, Folks... is history.

Track:
Title:
Side One:
(13:02)
1
Don't Go Out Tonight

G.B. Grayson
2
Another Night

Jack Adkins
3
Our Last Goodbye

C. Stanley
4
It's Never Too Late (To Start Over)

C. Stanley
5
Let Me Be Your Friend

C. Stanley
Side Two:
(10:48)
1
Poison Lies

C. Stanley
2
Loving You Too Well

C. Stanley
3
Baby Girl

C. Stanley
4
(I'm) Lonesome Without You

R. Stanley
5
Trust Each Other

R. Stanley

CD Bonus:

Track:
Title:
1
Nobody's Love Is Like Mine

C. Stanley
2
What About You

Johnnie Robert Wright / Jack Anglin / Jim Anglin

Go To Top Of Page [1] 23:50 minutes for the LP and 28:37 for the CD.
[2] Bluegrass Unlimited (Dec. 1985), Personal Appearance Calendar. (p51)
[3] Bluegrass Unlimited (Aug. 2016), 'The Life And Times Of James King' by Derek Halsey. (p51)
[4] The CD running order is the same as the LP, except Nobody's Love Is Like Mine is inserted between Loving You Too Well and Baby Girl; and What About You is added as the final track. The artwork is pretty much the same, so I haven't bothered reproducing it. My copy of the LP has a little surface noise.