This CD is the fourth and final release in a series documenting the Osborne Brothers’ career from their birthplace in Hyden, Ky., to Dayton, Knoxville, Detroit, Wheeling, and finally Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. The first seven of the eight cuts are from a partially finished album that was in progress when the brothers left MCA Records in the mid-’70s. Personnel included Vassar Clements on fiddle, Dale Sledd and Ray Edenton on rhythm guitar, Dennis Digby on bass, Robby Osborne on drums, Pig Robbins on piano, Leon Rhodes on electric guitar, and Hal Rugg on resonator guitar and pedal steel. The eighth bonus-track, Roger Miller’s “Half A Mind,” was recorded in 1995 with Sonny on the guitjo, Terry Eldredge on guitar, David Crow on fiddle, Terry Smith on bass, and Gene Wooten on resonator guitar.
The first seven cuts have not previously been released. There was clearly an interest here in appealing to the country market, and the results may not appeal to everyone. The lead-off cut “Gonna Be Raining When I Die” seems to be the most countrified, but in fact, the pedal steel is fairly pervasive throughout (piano to a lesser extent). That aside, there is very solid soulful Osborne Brothers trademark vocal work throughout on a good collection of songs, including Phil Rosenthal’s “Muddy Waters,” three Jake Landers compositions—“The Old Oak Tree,” “Going Back To The Mountains,” and “The Hard Times”—and “My Baby’s Gone” and “When I Stop Dreaming” from the Louvin Brothers.
There is some nice instrumental work from Sonny and Bob, but many listeners will be wishing there was more, even if the work of Hal Rugg on steel and Pig Robbins on piano is extremely well done. All in all, this release would seem to be a fitting wrap-up to the Osborne Brothers’ musical journey as they arrived in Nashville in the mid-’70s. (Pinecastle Records, 5000 Buncombe Rd., Ste. 27-242, Greenville, SC 29617, wwww.pinecastlemusic.com.)AW