History Beats Out Sound Quality

Detroit to Wheeling (Pinecastle)
Osborne Brothers

By Bob Mitchell

This project is the third in a four-part series documenting the career of the Osborne Brothers from Hyden, Ky., to the Grand Ole Opry. These two discs contain 29 rare and wonderful tracks spanning the years 1957-2002. A virtual who's who of Bluegrass musicians lend their support: Lester Flatt, Red Allen, Josh Graves, Charlie Cushman, Paul Warren, Gene Wooten, Glenn Duncan and many others.

The recordings are a vital contribution to a musical heritage of two brothers who have attained a distinguished level of artistry and consistency that few others can boast of. Each song is a phenomenal performance. There is never a dull moment as the laser glides across well-known songs from the bluegrass and country catalog.

Some of my personal favorites are selections that "do not meet today's standards for broadcast use and are included only for their historical significance" (according to the liner notes). For example, there are very scratchy sounding 1957 live radio performances of "The Hills of Roan County" and "Here Today and Gone Tomorrow." Hearing these songs was trip back to my childhood. Many of today's fans cannot possibly know how exciting it was to stay up late on a hot summer night without air conditioning. A window fan would pull in night air on an evening with atmospheric conditions that permitted a radio signal from WWVA (West Virginia) or WSW (Tennessee) to find it's way into your home. The music crackled through a magnificent three-inch speaker as you lay in bed. Chills ran through your body when acts like the Osborne Brothers stepped up to the mic. It was a marvelous experience. These tracks are as close as many listeners will get that kind of event.

Other highlights include a priceless 1961 live festival performance featuring Bobby Osborne and Lester Flatt on "We'll Meet Again Sweetheart." Paul Warren's brilliant fiddle and Josh Grave's exceptional Dobro work are extra icing on the cake. "Love and Wealth" is a compelling 2002 cover of the Ira and Charlie Louvin classic. The Osbornes' harmonies are fabulous and represent the brothers at their best.

"Down Where The River Bends," a Jack Anglin and Johnnie Wright masterpiece, was originally recorded in 1998. Later that year, Dobro and fiddle tracks were added. Then, in 1999, it was re-mixed to create the blockbuster arrangement on this release. In short, historical projects don't get any better than this one.