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RALPH STANLEY & FRIENDS 'Clinch Mountain Country' REB-5001-CD

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In one of the most impressive and satisfying "collaboration" albums of recent years, Stanley and a host of guests provide a powerful statement as to the effect that Stanley's music has had on country music over the years. The names here (30 of them) are impressive enough: what is really remarkable is that in every case the guest artists fit in beautifully, seemingly totally at home in the "Stanley sound". There are a hundred stories here, but country and Bluegrass fans alike will thrill to performances such as Patty Loveless' awesome duet with Ralph on PRETTY POLLY, the dynamic I JUST GOT WISE with Dwight Yoakum, I ONLY EXIST (with John Anderson), Marty Stuart's fine, solid rendition of SHE'S MORE TO BE PITIED, the knockout duets with Rhonda Vincent (I'LL TAKE THE BLAME) and Laurie Lewis (OLD LOVE LETTERS), the masterful WINDOW UP ABOVE with George Jones, and Connie Smith's lovely BEAUTIFUL STAR OF BETHLEHEM. Some of the guests are so at home that they sound like regular members of the Clinch Mountain Boys (Joe Diffie, Tim O'Brien, and Doug Phelps of the Kentucky Headhunters). It's hardly fair to single out anyone from the 2-CD, 36 song set, because every performer shines in this amazing package that was conceived and so nicely put together by producer Bil VornDick (it is unlikely that anyone else-in Nashville or out-could have pulled this off). The current members of the Clinch Mountain Boys--one of the best groups Ralph as ever had--add considerably to the project with solid, tasteful work on fiddle (James Price), banjo (Steve Sparkman), lead guitar (James Alan Shelton), mandolin (John Rigsby), along with Ralph Stanley II (guitar) and Jack Cooke (bass). Check out some of the others to be heard here and don't miss this wonderful event: Porter Wagoner, Bob Dylan, Kathy Mattea, BR- 549, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Jim Lauderdale, Junior Brown, Gillian Welch, etc.