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Man of Constant Sorrow

19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 23, 2001
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$13.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Released around the same time as O Brother, Where Art Thou? , this is one of the best anthologies by this towering figure in bluegrass. His unforgettable Man of Constant Sorrow and Oh Death (both prominent in the film) join Rocky Island; Hard Times; Angel Band; Little Birdie; Poor Rambler , and six more!

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Ralph Stanley's half-century-long career received a nice boost late in 2000 with the release of Joel and Ethan Coen's movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? The film prominently featured three tunes from the Stanley repertoire, including the title tune of this stellar anthology (although it's not Stanley's version that's featured in the film). Another is the hillbilly lament "Oh Death," a traditional song that perfectly suits Stanley's high, wavering, mournful voice. Focusing on Stanley's post-Stanley Brothers career, this set serves as a fine introduction to his estimable body of work, including gems like "Goin' Up Home to Live in Green Pastures"--as pretty a country gospel tune as has ever been recorded--"Hard Times," and "Old Richmond Prison." It's an altogether satisfying collection that leaves the listener wanting more. --Gregory McNamee


Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 23, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rebel Records
  • ASIN: B000056BC2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,715 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Ron Frankl on December 13, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Ralph Stanley is one of the living masters of American music. This release contains music apparently featured in the new Coen Brothers film "O Brother Where Art Thous?", but it also serves as an excellent career overview to Stanley's unique style of Bluegrass.
Banjoist Ralph and his guitar playing brother, Carter, were the Stanley Brothers, a pioneering act in bluegrass music. Heavily influenced by traditional string band music, the Blue Sky Boys and bluegrass creator Bill Monroe, the Carters recorded and performed together from the late '40's until Carter's premature death in 1966, creating some of the most original and lasting work in the bluegrass field. Carter was the lead singer and showman of the group, and there were real questions whether Ralph Stanley could pursue a successful solo career.
Fortunately for fans of bluegrass, Ralph Stanley was more than up to the challenge. Raplh Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys have been at the forefront of bluegrass for over thirty years, recording numerous albums that combined Ralph's haunting harmony vocals with a series of fine lead vocalists, including Keith Whitley, Roy Lee Centers and Charlie Sizemore. Even at the end of 2000, Ralph Stanley remains active, touring widely and recording frequently with a band that features son Ralph II on as lead vocalist.
The material on this CD was recorded from the '70's through the '90's, and is a fine selection of Stanley's music. It combines traditional tunes, gospel songs and originals. Stanley and his musicians avoid the sterility that afflicts many contemporary bluegrass groups; there is a genuineness and sincerity that sets their work apart. Like his friend, the late Bill Monroe, Stanley's otherworldly harmnonies often dominate the songs, to great effect.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Tribe on August 11, 2001
Format: Audio CD
As a result of "O Brother Where Art Thou?", Ralph Stanley is finally reaching reknown beyond bluegrass fans. Hard core bluegrass fans have known for decades that Ralph Stanley is the premier male mountain singer....this collection will let everyone else know that Stanely is a great singer...period! This collection is a mini-retrospective of Stanley's solo work during the seventies. I'm sorry I missed these songs when they were originally issued because this is bone-chilling, hair-raising mountain singing. Every cut on this CD is a gem; the standout being "Old Richmond Prison," a paen to regret, loneliness and isolation that'll convert you for sure.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Bradley on May 16, 2002
Format: Audio CD
It was only a matter of time before greater America woke up to Bluegrass music, the big-beat music with no drums that's been in our backyard for generations.
Ralph Stanley sings songs of sorrow and he means it; I think the scary feeling many listeners talk about comes from Stanley hitting home, a deadeye bullseye on some archetypical fears.
Great fiddle playing, too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ben J Korgen on June 18, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD features thirteen excellent tracks of the Appalachian Mountain variety. Ralph Stanley, the veteran banjo player and tenor singer who can make almost anyone cry, is the lead singer on most of the tracks. Keith Whitley is the lead singer on two tracks, while Roy Lee Centers and Sammy Adkins serve as lead singer on one track each.

All four lead singers perform with The Clinch Mountain Boys. This enriches all the tracks. Ralph Stanley is at his best while singing "Man of Constant Sorrow." His rendition of this song made history by revitalizing bluegrass when interest in it was sagging.

Bluegrass lovers might find Keith Whitley's role in this CD to be of special interest. Most Keith Whitley fans know of his soaring pop-singing talent and that he died much too young. Some have no idea he sang bluegrass music. I believe that Keith Whitley had the greatest natural bluegrass music voice ever recorded. I also believe that this CD includes the greatest single bluegrass music song ever sung. It is "I Am Weary" with Keith Whitley as the lead singer.

For insight into Ralph Stanley's role in The Stanley Brothers before his brother Carter's early death, see my review of the CD titled "The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys 1949-52."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Williams on April 9, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you are not reall bluegrass fan you might consider this one as your one collection.
Tragic with themes around drinking, death, murder. and lost loves.
And that high tenor voice that sometimes causes the hair to stand up on the back of your neck.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sanpete on March 25, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Ralph Stanley is from a world seldom heard from these days in commercially successful recordings. This music has an earthy, deeply Southern heart--from the poor, dirt farmer South--not entirely possible to imitate, though very enjoyable facsimiles of the feel of it have been made in successful recordings by The Byrds, The Band, The Grateful Dead and others, who nonetheless always sound a bit like they're imitating something when they do it.

This is the real thing. The vocals, harmonies, instrumentals (Curly Ray Cline's fiddle, in particular) have a rough, astringent, yet sweet twang that has been polished and cleaned by performers such as Alison Krauss, to rather different if also very fine effect. It's hard to imagine that this sound could come from anyone who didn't grow up where and how Stanley did. There's something elemental about it, but with its own very strong and unique flavor. It's the sound of a very particular way of living hardship and joy.

There are already some very helpful reviews of this CD, so I won't repeat what others have said. I just wanted to add my voice to the little chorus here: this is great American music that you've probably never heard quite the likes of anywhere else. If you liked it in the movie, or like the samples here, you won't be disappointed. Except maybe that there isn't more of it on the disc!
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