Clinch Mountain Echo

Ralph Stanley - The Bluegrass Sound Of...

(Jalyn JLP 120) 1968

The Bluegrass Sound Of...
Rear Cover Side One Side Two Rear sleeve picture
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This album was recorded on the 14-15th February 1968 one week before Ralph cut the Over The Sunset Hill LP for King.[1]

Melvin Goins' was absent from the session, and Frank Wakefield was brought in on mandolin. It's interesting that on both albums Ralph cut for Jalyn the mandolin is used much more than on the three King albums.

'The Bluegrass Sound' was partly funded by Osburn Thorpe in exchange for copies of the record, which he could then sell/distribute.[2] Osburn is credited with five of the twelve songs and also wrote the liner notes. Ralph also recorded his A Little Soldier For Jesus on Over The Sunset Hill and later Ralph recorded his Darling Brown Eyes (Hills Of Home and with Jimmy Martin First Time Together) and Green Pastures In The Sky (Old Country Church). In total Osburn has 67 titles listed in the BMI repertoire, some of which were also recorded by Larry Sparks, Roy McGinnis & The Sunnysiders, Cliff Waldron and The Bluegrass Blackjacks.

Of his songs on this album, Blue Eyed Ellen is a murder ballad; She Ran Away With Another Man and I Was Born A Rambler are rather self explanatory tales of loss and trouble; Concluding the album there's also Carter's Songs an intriguing but not particularly successful exercise comprised of lyrics taken from Carter's song titles.

One track, Your Saddle Is Empty Old Pal a cowboy trail song, although credited to Osburn was actually written by Cliff Carlisle as Your Saddle Is Empty Tonight / Riding The Trail (Your Saddle Is Empty Tonight) in 1933. Curiously there are BMI song writing credits for Osburn (Ozzie) Thorpe for under both Riding The Trail and Your Saddle Is Empty... titles. The Stanley Brothers had also cut the song on the 1964 John's Country Quartet LP.

Osburn was born in Breathitt Co. KY in 1933. He worked as a police patrolman and later was Deputy Sheriff in Montgomery Co. Dayton, OH. He later moved to Indianapolis, where he died in 2000.[2][3]

Jack Lynch contributes one song, In Memory Of Carter Stanley, which he'd earlier recorded with Roy Lee Centers as Jack Lynch and The Lee Brothers (In Memory Of Carter Stanley/I Can't Forget You (Jalyn 45-312) 1967)[4] and which Don Reno & Bill Harrell had also just cut on 'The Most Requested Songs' (Jalyn JLP-119) - with George Shuffler on bass. The Clinch Mountain Boys, with Ralph absent and Roy Lee Centers on banjo, also recorded it in June 1971. That version finally saw light of day on the Classic Stanley 2xCD set. The song was originally partly written by Gene Duty[5], which he gave to Jack Lynch.[2]

Curly Ray Cline had previously recorded Twenty One Years as part of The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers first RCA Victor session in 1952.[6]

The sound quality on this album is noticeably better than on the 'purple' cover variant of Old Time Music.

There was also a B&W version of the sleeve, which is pressed on thinner vinyl and is probably a later reissue. The Colour cover version has "RITE 448 Stereo Jaylyn JLP-120A 22409 (10) 2" scratched in the dead wax, while the B&W sleeve version has "#2 22409(10) 11·3·6 RITE CRS".

In 2021 there was a dodgy CD reissue of the album (Good Time Records GTRCD-1155). This is probably best avoided, as the recording sounds like it has been put through an EQ filter, with the higher frequencies greatly attenuated. The original vinyl (or MP3 rips) sound much better. The CD artwork is also pretty shoddy on my copy, with colour streaks & no information or song-writer credits. Carter's Songs is also misspelt as Carter's Song.

In 2022 the album was reissued as a limited run of 1,500 copies on 180 gram green vinyl as part of the US Record Store Day promotion (Reel Music RMLP3160LE). It's claimed that this is an official release & it's on Reel Records, a subsidiary label of Good Time, who made the crap CD release. Sound quality is as good as the original LP and it looks like they've filtered out some high frequency noise that was on the original Jalyn version. There are some minor alterations to the artwork which are only apparent if you do a side-by-side comparison. The rear sleeve indicates that it was made in the European Union, but the Good Time Records facebook page gives their location as Nashville. Like the CD there is no address or contact details.

It is still a crying shame that this and Old Time Music have never been properly reissued on CD. They would both fit nicely on one disc...

Thanks to Todd Gracyk for the Your Saddle Is Empty Old Pal correction.

Further Notes:

The following is an article on Osburn Thorpe, that first appeared in the 'Dayton Daily News', written by Steve Clark a staff writer for the paper. It was reproduced in the Ralph Stanley Fan Club journal in Dec. 1969[7]

L-R: Osburn Thorpe & Carl Story (Franklin Ohio Bluegrass Festival 1968)

Deputy Writes Lyrics - Tragedy Awaits Immortality

"In Farmington, West Virginia, a mining town in the state,
On Novermber the twenty first, nineteen sixty eight,
This tragedy happened, that was mourned the world around,
Seventy eight miners died, hundreds of feet underground..."

The country and western songwriter, like the novelist and the poet, frequently capitalizes on someone else's tragedy. Why? "People just naturally like songs about sadness and tragedy," explained Osburn Thorpe, a Montgomery county deputy sheriff who moonlights by writing country lyrics.

"Hill people especially like these kind of songs, because, more than likely, the words tell a story about something that has actually happened to them."

The above lyrics are from the first verse of Thorpe's latest, entitled The Miner's Tragedy. It tells about the pre-Thanksgiving coal mine explosion which took the lives of 78 West Virginian miners. Thorpe expects Bluegrass singer, Ralph Stanley to record it in Nashville later this month.[8]

"I wanted to write one about the collapse of the Silver Bridge, but I never got around to it," said Thorpe, 34, a friendly, dark haired Kentucky native. Songwriting is a recent hobby of Thorpe's. After listening to and admiring country music all his life, he decided last February to try to write a song. His first attempt, A Little Soldier For Jesus, was accepted and recorded by Stanley on an album released last summer.

Since last winter, Thorpe has written 95 songs, six of which have been recorded by Ralph Stanley. Other artists recorded several others. Most of them have been rejected and discarded.

"I can't read music. I can't pick a guitar. And I can't sing very well", he admitted. But I've always loved country music, especially Bluegrass. I remember when I was a boy in Jackson, Ky., I used to sit and listen to the old guys play the five string banjoes for hours.

About half of his songs fall under the country music industry's catalog of 'sacred' music. The other half involve various topics, best illustrated by the titles: She Ran Away With Another Man, I Was Born A Rambler and Your Saddle Is Empty, Old Pal. I get the ideas for my songs while driving to and from work, said Thorpe. When you're driving, is a good time to do a lot of thinking. Then I sit down and write them out by long hand. Sometimes it takes me ten minutes to write a song. Other times it takes four of five days to get it right.

Thorpe said he uses a tape recorded in order to present his songs to Stanley, whom he met through a mutual friend, Jack Lynch, owner of a Dayton recording company.

"I write the words, then I get a tape recorder and sing them to the tune I think they ought to be sung to. I give the tapes to Ralph Stanley and he takes it from there."

Thorpe, who lives with his wife and four children in Farmerville, has been a deputy sheriff here for three years. Before coming to Dayton, he spent two years as chief deputy of Breathitt county, Kentucky; eight years with a grocery company in Indianapolis and eight years in the Army.

So far, Thorpe hasn't made a lot of money off his songwriting. He gets only a small percentage of the proceeds from a record, and if the disc doesn't sell very well, his profit is slim.

"I'm going to keep plugging. Maybe one of these days I'll write one like 'Harper Valley PTA' or 'The Wichita Lineman'." If Osburn Thorpe wrote one like either of those two, he wouldn't have to report to the county jail anymore. He could turn in his badge, hang up is guns, and live happily ever after in Farmersville - or Nashville.

Side One:
In Memory Of Carter Stanley

Jack Lynch
Lonesome Road Blues

She Ran Away With Another Man

Osburn Thorpe
I Was Born A Rambler

Osburn Thorpe
Twenty One Years

Bob Miller
Sally Goodin

Side Two:
We'll Be Sweethearts In Heaven

C. Stanley
Sweetest Love

C. Stanley
Blue Eyed Ellen

Osburn Thorpe
Baby Girl

C. Stanley
Your Saddle Is Empty Old Pal

Osburn Thorpe
Carter's Songs

Osburn Thorpe

Go To Top Of Page [1] John Wright's "Travelling The High Way Home" book (p252).
[2] John Wright's "Travelling The High Way Home" book (p164-166).
[3] Various searches on
[4] and
[5] See the Sings Michigan Bluegrass for more details on Gene Duty.
[6] Liner notes to The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers - Windy Mountain (Bear BCD-16351-AH) 1992.
[7] See the 'Song & Memory Book' page for a pdf of the Fan Club journal.
[8] If Ralph did cut a version of The Miner's Tragedy, it didn't see light of day.