The Essential Gospel Masters

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By the late 1950s, Carter and Ralph Stanley were well established as leading lights of the still-evolving bluegrass field. But they were still bound tightly to the spiritual music they'd grown up on in rural southwest Virginia, as heard on these gospel tracks recorded in 1959 and 1960 for the King and Starday labels. The brothers' riveting harmonies—to be silenced with Carter's death just six years later—and the tight ensemble playing of their ace backing group, the Clinch Mountain Boys, bring pep and drive to these 18 traditional and contemporary tunes.

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