THE MUSIC OF THE STANLEY BROTHERS - by Gary B. Reid
by Gary B. Reid, (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2015) 286 pages, softbound. Gary Reid is the undisputed expert on the Stanley Brothers, and he has done an amazing amount of research for this 286 page work. It tracks the brothers’ career in music from a modest beginning in the 1940s to the death of Carter Stanley in 1966. (Reid does not cover Ralph Stanley’s amazing 49 year career after Carter’s death). This book’s format is somewhat similar to an earlier work on Bill Monroe by Neil Rosenberg, (who in fact has written the forward here): it covers the careers of the Stanleys recording session by recording session—in that sense it could be called a glorified discograply, with commentary on the music from various sources all arranged chronologically. The book in fact is broken down to 5 chapters, each covering the brothers association with various record labels: from RICH-R-TONE to Columbia, to Mercury, then to early and late KING and STARDAY. For example, a 15-page discography of Mercury recordings covers the years 1953-1958—even including live recordings that fell in that period and happened to survive and make it to record (LP or compact disc). Yes, the book is definitely a bonanza for record collectors and historians, but any fan of Carter and Ralph will love all the facts that Reid has gathered in tying together both the lives and the music of this great group. There are some photos in the book—mostly of record jackets and record labels. There is also a useful numerical, a good index and additional notes. A gem for any Stanley Brothers fan!