Clinch Mountain Echo

Steve Sparkman - Harlan County Five-String

(Copper Creek CCCD-0152) 1997

Harlan County Five-String
CD Tray Rear Cover
Inner Booklet Inner Booklet Inner Booklet

Average Album Rating: 4
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Steve's second album, which was recorded 20-21st Nov. 1996 at Maggard Sound in Big Stone Gap Va., is another fine example of top-class 'Stanley' style picking. Featuring backing by the full Clinch Mountain Boys, the album relies less on the Stanley back-catalogue than it's predecessor, but still maintains the Clinch Mountain sound.

Kicking off with Lonesome Pine Breakdown, the liner notes say this hadn't been rerecorded since the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers cut it back in 1953... but The Goins Brothers featured it on their 'Tribute To The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers' LP in 1973, Don Stover recorded it on his seminal 'Things In Life' album in 1972, and Curly Ray himself rejuvenated it on They Cut Down The Old Pine Tree in Dec. 1971.

The liner notes, also go a little askew on Bill Monroe's Pike County Breakdown, which state that Ralph never recorded the track. The Stanley Brothers performed it live[1], but Ralph also recorded it on Curly Ray's They Cut Down The Old Pine Tree and also as an outtake for Bill Monroe's Stars Of The Bluegrass Hall Of Fame.

There are also two more Bill Monroe instrumentals: Panhandle Country with twin fiddles by James Price and John Rigsby; and the anthemic classic Big Mon.

From the Stanley catalogue, there's a mid-tempo version of Shamrock; Darling Nellie Gray is performed at a constant tempo (unlike the Stanley's original); and Holiday Pickin'[2] has some unusual guitar picking that doesn't gel particularly well..

Of the original tracks, Buck Creek Rag is a clawhammer piece; while Stanleytone March and Harlan County Five-String are great 'Stanley style' 3-finger picking tunes.

In an interview in 2005, it was mentioned that Steve was working on a new album,[3] but sadly this never came to fruition.

Lonesome Pine Breakdown

Curly Ray Cline

R. Stanley
Buck Creek Rag

Steve Sparkman
Panhandle Country

Bill Monroe
Darling Nellie Gray

Benny Hanby
Stanleytone March

Steve Sparkman
Big Mon

Bill Monroe
Holiday Pickin'

R. Stanley
Shortnin' Bread

Jacques Wolfe / Clement Wood
Pike County Breakdown

Rupert Jones (Bill Monroe)
Going Downtown

Home Sweet Home

Bishop / Payne
Harlan County Five-String

Steve Sparkman

Go To Top Of Page [1] eg the New River Ranch, Rising Sun, Maryland 7th Sept. 1958 - 'Stanley Series, Vol. 3 #4' (Copper Creek CCCD-5512); and from the 1963 Ray Davis Dec. 1963 radio sessions 'Radio Series Vol. 4' (Wango CD-114) 2000; and 'Radio Series Vol. 5' (Wango CD-125) 2005;
[2] aka Wild Horse and Reindeer - see Gary B. Reid's 'The Muisc Of The Stanley Brothers' (p.88). It was also re-titled as Pickin' The Five String on the V/A - 'Mountain Folks Song Concert Bluegrass Style' (Palace M-720) 196?.