In celebrating the anniversary of Bobby Osborne’s six decades(!) in showbiz, producer Glen Duncan has pulled out the stops. These 14 tracks, besides highlighting Osborne’s perennial talents, also feature vocal and instrumental assists from a high-profile cast that includes Bobby Osborne, Jr., Tim Graves, Patty Loveless, Emory Gordy, Jr., Ronnie McCoury, David Grisman, Sammy Shelor, David Harvey, Russell Moore, Japanese bluegrass maestro Takeharu Kunimoto, and Duncan. The opening track, a rousing Osborne/Russell Moore duet on the Randall Hylton favorite “Mountain Fever” sets the ambitious tone for what’s to come.
Besides producing, Duncan plays fiddle throughout and also penned several memorable songs. His keening fiddle all but steals the show on “Bring Back Yesterday,” a lovely, wistful ballad he penned, and on “Hiding In Hyden,” a jaunty bootlegger’s anthem he also composed for this project.
I’m sure Osborne, long ago, lost track of how many times he’s recorded and sung “Ruby,” which is probably the closest thing he has to a theme song. Yet, surprisingly, he brings new life into this old chestnut with a galloping, free-wheeling, almost frenetic vocal performance where he sustains some of those urgent high notes longer than seems humanly possible. Meanwhile, Duncan on fiddle lays down all the instrumental exclamation points at all the right places.
Perhaps best of all is a powerful, almost mystical instrumental ode to Bill Monroe called “Man From Rosine”—yet another sterling Duncan original. Here, Duncan, Osborne (Sr. and Jr.), along with McCoury, Shelor, Grisman, Graves and Harvey, meld their talents in a powerful and moving tour de force. All in all, this is a mighty fine album and a worthy celebration of Osborne’s six decades in “the biz.” (Rural Rhythm Records, P.O. Box 660040, Dept. D, Arcadia, CA 91066, www.ruralrhythm.com.) BA