Ralph Stanley

I'll Answer the Call

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By 1988, when this album was originally recorded and released, Ralph Stanley had reverted to a mandolin-less instrumental lineup much like the one he and his brother had used early in their career as a band -- a move originally designed to keep the group from sounding too much like a direct imitation of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. The material, too, harks back to the glory days of bluegrass-gospel music, and includes renditions of such staples as "Let the Church Roll On" and "In His Arms I'm Not Afraid" (which features some particularly spectacular tenor singing by Stanley). "Calling My Children Home" exemplifies the unaccompanied quartet singing that Stanley had done so much to popularize in the 1970s. But this album's emotional centerpiece is Stanley's solo vocal performance of the modal and vinegary "Daddy's Rose." All of that said, this is about an average Ralph Stanley album in terms of overall quality -- which means, of course, that it stands head and shoulders above most other bluegrass-gospel records.

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