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• Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys

For serious lovers of American music and its evolution, you simply can't be without this box set of Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys; it's too important and it's too amazing! Few things can put you right in the heart of the 1930's like this box set right here. This consummate and legendary entertainer had his priorities straight--get those people on the dance floor and keep them there! (How pathetic it's gotten--techno, and rappers that can't play a lick. Hope there's Western Swing in heaven.)

One of the original genre-benders, Bob Wills paid absolutely no attention to the supposed lines between styles and appropriate instrumentation, and mixed both his entire celebrated career. Some of the guitar solos on this set by Leon McAuliffe are the first electric lead guitar tracks ever recorded, according to the fantastic booklet attached. Sure they're rough, but they're smoking! (Just think about it, it had never been done!)

the bus

One of the Bob Wills trademarks was to talk or "holler" all over the songs, to introduce the soloists or to lay down his famous "A-haaaaa" cry of appreciation, the only country sound I ever remember my very urban father uttering. Just listening to Bob and Tommy Duncan sing "Bring it on down to my house, honey, there ain't nobody home but me" destroyed me. Some things never have and never will change.

The horn arrangements are fabulous against the swing fiddles, there's a wealth of pure genius in every track. Wills as a bandleader encouraged free improvisation and for players to play it exactly how they felt it. (The young Ornette Coleman frequently jammed with the Texas Playboys in his hometown of Fort Worth in the fifties on his way to becoming one of the voices that shaped modern jazz.)

The fascinating story of this American musical giant is well told in the accompanying booklet, the package overall is tops. The ups and downs, the binges, the deals gone down and gone wrong, and the decline of western swing in the fifties (which caused Wills to sell his ranch house to none other than Jack Ruby!). For thirty-six years, Asleep At The Wheel has written its own legacy keeping alive the western swing invented by Bob Wills And The Texas Playboys. Now you can have the original, 105 songs from the thirties through the fifties and beyond. It's unbelievable, gotta have it.
• Frank Goodman

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bobwills.com        Bob Wills at wikipedia

legacyrecordings.com       texasplayboys.net (fansite)

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