Hymns of the Cross cover

Ralph and Carter Stanley were a powerhouse first-generation bluegrass team, and made hundreds of recordings before Carter’s untimely death in 1966 at age 41. They recorded plenty of standard bluegrass fare, but their most powerful performances were of gospel songs. This 1964 set finds them delivering such standards as “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” and the gloriously eerie “Oh Death.” Ralph’s voice is like a ten-pound hammer on “I Just Dropped By,” and the brothers croon together gloriously on “Jesus Savior, Pilot Me.” This is an excellent introduction to the work of a team that was dissolved way too soon.

Rick Anderson