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These 23 blue yodels show us that, at first, Autry bore much more similarity to the Singing Brakeman–Jimmie Rodgers–than to the Singing Cowboy that Autry became and that propelled him to stardom. In fact, it would not be out of line to call him a Rodgers imitator: His label, American Record Company (soon to be Columbia), specifically employed him as a direct alternative to Rodgers, and even sold his records at a third of the price of Victor’s Rodgers recordings. If that’s not enough, Autry covered a healthy handful of Rodgers’s most famous cuts. Nevertheless, Autry displays a natural, appealing comfort with the blues idiom, especially with his sharp yodels, and his originals hold their own next to Rodgers’s classics. Eventually, Autry’s music would make its mark by helping people forget their Depression-era blues; he waxed “That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine,” a cowboy ballad well outside the blues paradigm, at the tail end of these sessions (but not included here), and it would become his first huge hit. This collection proves, if nothing else, that Autry’s talent was boundless and that his voice was infinitely charismatic in any setting. –Marc Greilsamer
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