SONNY OSBORNE as Stanley Alpine

Thursday, February 12, 2015


A strong candidate for the worst cover ever on a bluegrass album (this statement is not a challenge, as I'm sure there are others just as bad!) would be this ubiquitous 1964 collection of banjo instrumentals credited to the mysterious "Stanley Alpine And The Tennessee Bluegrass All-Stars". Issued simultaneously on various "throwaway" budget labels such as Palace, Countrytime, and like the present copy, Masterseal, it's the kind of LP that one often encounters today while scrounging through thrift shop bins and could easily be passed over as ersatz landfill fodder, hardly worth a second glance.
Canny bluegrass record collectors, though, have long been aware that the cross-eyed male model whose banjo has no strings and only one tuning peg is not Stanley Alpine and that in fact, no such artist even exists. The contents of this cheapest of budget LPs is in fact ten early recordings made by a teenage Sonny Osborne for Ohio's Gateway and Kentucky labels. The original releases of these tunes were on 78 and 45 rpm singles that were mostly sold by mail order over the radio on local stations that the young Sonny was playing over at the time. The discographal information on the album's content is below:

1. Sunny Mountain Chimes (Sunny Osborn, Gateway 3005)
2. Gun Powder (Sonny Osborne And The Sunny Mountain Boys, Gateway 3008)
3. Walking Cane (Sonny Osborne On The Five-String Banjo and his Sunny Mountain Boys, Gateway 3010 as "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane")
4. Jesse James (Sonny Osborne On The Five-String Banjo and his Sunny Mountain Boys, Gateway 3010)
5. Silver Rainbow (Sonny Osborne On The Five-String Banjo and his Sunny Mountain Boys, Gateway 3010)
6. Auld Lang Syne (Sonny Osborne On The Five-String Banjo and his Sunny Mountain Boys, Gateway 3011)
7. Banjo Boy Chimes (Sonny Osborne On The Five-String Banjo and his Sunny Mountain Boys, Gateway 3010)
8. Raw Hide (Sonny Osborne, Kentucky Session, unissued as single)
9. Cumberland Gap (Sonny Osborne, Kentucky Session, unissued as single)
10. Train 45 (Sonny Osborne, Kentucky Session, unissued as single)

1 - 1952 Gateway Studio, Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, OH – Sonny Osborne  (Sonny Osborne [vcl/gt], Carlos Brock [vcl/gt], Enos Johnson [vcl/mandolin], Smokey Ward [bass], Billy Thomas [fiddle])

2 - 1953 Gateway Studio, Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, OH – Sonny Osborne  (Sonny Osborne [vcl/gt], Carlos Brock [vcl/gt], Enos Johnson [vcl/mandolin], Smokey Ward [bass], Billy Thomas [fiddle])

3-7 - February 1956 Gateway Studio, Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, OH - Sonny Osborne on the Five String Banjo and His Sunny Mountain Boys (Sonny Osborne [banjo], Red Allen [rh gt-1/ld gt-2], Bobby Osborne [mandolin/fiddle-3], Les Bodine [bass], Art Stamper [fiddle], Les Bodine [bass])

8-10 - 1952 Gateway Studio, Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, OH – Sonny Osborne (Sonny Osborne [vcl/gt], Carlos Brock [vcl/gt], Enos Johnson [vcl/mandolin], Smokey Ward [bass], Billy Thomas [fiddle])

(source: Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies)

Why a pseudonym was used for this LP is a mystery, perhaps it was a contractual issue or perhaps in 1964 the Osborne Brothers were not considered the "name" act they became after 1967's smash "Rocky Top" (although they were by no means unheard of or obscure). Incidentally, a few online resources have stated that Sonny and Bobby made these recordings under the name Stanley Alpine, but that is untrue, the recordings were released under Sonny's name many years before this LP hit the market.

Tracks:

1. Sunny Mountain Chimes
2. Gun Powder
3. Walking Cane
4. Jesse James
5. Silver Rainbow
6. Auld Lang Syne
7. Banjo Boy Chimes
8. Raw Hide
9. Cumberland Gap
10. Train 45

*download here*

3 comments:

Steve T said...

They may have used Stanley Alpine to avoid the musicians union from knowing they were working for less then union scale.

Unknown said...

I recently bought this album. I had one of the Gateway 78s, but it got broken. I have another 78 that had no label name, it just said Big 4 Hits on both sides. "Train 45", "Rawhide", and "Cumberland Gap" were on that 78. "White House Blues" was the other track. I posted that 78 on my You Tube page.

Blogger said...

Teeth Night Guard is providing precise fitting and high quality customized teeth protectors.