List Price: $15.99
This compilation, studio recordings from the later 1940s, reflects the romping, stomping sound of Bob Wills at his best, and the range of his material. Tommy Duncan handles the vocal chores with consummate ease, with and without the assistance of Wills himself. Included are versions of his best known songs “New Spanish Two-Step” and of course “San Antonia Rose”. “Steel Guitar Rag” gets an airing, with Roy Honeycutt substituting on steel for Leon McAuliffe. Traditional fare is served up with the likes of “Little Betty Brown”, “Get Along Home, Cindy” and “Cotton-Eyed Joe”, and given the time Wills spent in Oklahoma, no surprise with Jack & Woody Guthrie’s “Oklahoma Hills”, Wills’ own tribute “Oklahoma Rag”, and “Okie Boogie”. Texas isn’t forgotten with two of Stuart Hamblen’s Western songs, plus “Lone Star Rag”. Johnny Bond’s “Ten Years” had been a minor Wills hit in 1942, Cindy Walker wrote “Cherokee Maiden” for Wills in 1942, and Wills himself had a hand in the Bluesy “I’m Gonna Be Boss From Now On”. From the big band sound of Duke Ellington, no less, comes an interesting version of Billy Strayhorn’s “Take The ‘A’ Train”, whilst Count Basie with singer Jimmy Rushing may have been the inspiration of “That’s Your Red Wagon”, although Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup had recorded it two years earlier in 1945. No doubting that “Straighten Up And Fly Right” was a cover of Nat ‘King’ Cole’s 1944 hit when Cole was loosely in a Rhythm & Blues phase, “I’m A Ding Dong Daddy” had been around a while, performed by the likes of Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman, later revived by Phil Harris, “My Gal Sal” was as old as Wills himself (he was born in 1905), and Louis Armstrong would have been no stranger to those much-recorded stand-bys, “Dinah”, “Four Or Five Times” and “Sugar Blues”. Echoes of Django Reinhardt in “Crazy Rhythm”, who played guitar on the classic recording of this 1928 show tune, made with Coleman Hawkins in Paris during 1937. Who knows, perhaps the young ‘Little’ Richard Penniman heard Wills’ version of “Keep Knockin'” on the radio and put it to good use in 1957 with his own hit “Keep A Knockin'”. This 25 track compilation of studio recordings confirms what a stomping band it was, designed to keep the dancers on the floor at any gig. Tommy Duncan is heavily featured on vocals, Wills himself is ever present with encouragement.
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