Uncut - p.1064 stars out of 5
- "[T]hese scratchy first recordings are raw parables of Appalachian life, their cold-comfort harmonies and startling murder ballads as primal as any punk threw up."
Dirty Linen - p.42
"[S]ure to create a buzz among longtime fans....[The songs] mark the starting point of a productive career."
The Stanley Brothers: Ralph Stanley, Carter Stanley (vocals).
Personnel: Carter Stanley (guitar); Ralph Stanley (banjo); Darrell "Pee Wee" Lambert, Jimmy Williams (mandolin); Art Wooten, Art Stamper (fiddle).
Additional personnel: Ray Lambert (vocals, double bass); Jim Williams (mandolin); Leslie Keith (fiddle); Darrell "Pee Wee" Lambert, Art Wooten, Art Stamper.
Audio Remasterer: Christopher  C. King.
Liner Note Author: Gary B. Reid.
Recording information: Radio Statio WOPI, Bristol, VA (1947-1952); WLSI, Pikeville, KY (1947-1952).
Photographer: Gary B. Reid.
Arranger: Ralph Stanley.
Before the Stanley Brothers signed on for their celebrated tenure with Columbia Records, they cut a batch of 78s for Rich-R-Tone Records that have since taken on a great historical significance (they are difficult to find, and represent some of the Stanley's earliest work). All of the hallmarks of the legendary bluegrass duo were already in place by the late 1940s (the Rich-R-Tone recordings date between 1947 and 1952), with Carter's soulful tenor leading the charge, and Ralph's high harmonies floating above, while his banjo adds texture.
The track list features some of the Stanleys' best-known songs, including "Little Maggie" and "The Little Glass of Wine." Many of the songs are narrative and take on the dimensions of parable ("The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake"), while others mine the heartbreaking themes so well suited to the high lonesome sound ("Mother No Longer Awaits Me at Home"). This is as old-time and authentic as bluegrass gets--right down to the hiss and crackle of the 78s (though the sound has been significantly improved in the remastering process). A lengthy, informative booklet filled with biographical information, criticism, and vintage photographs makes this a must for bluegrass enthusiasts.