CD Review: Best of the West Revisited
By R. L. Hall, Cowboy Songs Corral
We need to keep alive the singing cowboy stars and other western singers from the past.
For me, one memorable cowboy song is worth more than a whole pile of the crap rap of today!
Here is an example of some wonderful music from films and TV programs...
BEST OF THE WEST REVISITED:
Songs, Dialogue & Cowboy Theme Music
from Classic Radio, Movies & TV Westerns
Executive Producers: James Prentice and Diane Prentice.
Created and Produced by Joe Benigno. Graphic Design by S. Spangler Design.
Breakable Records DPCD 109 (2003)
17 Tracks = 47:06
1. Gene Autry Radio Audition (18:10)
2. The Lone Ranger Theme (1:51)
3. Annie Oakley TV Theme (1:13)
4. Buffalo Bill, Jr. TV Theme (1:09)
5. The Range Rider TV Theme (1:08)
6. RED RIVER Movie Theme -- from the soundtrack (3:03)
7. HIGH NOON Movie Theme Song -- Tex Ritter (2:35)
8. RIVER OF NO RETURN Movie Theme -- Ernie Ford & Marilyn Monroe (4:49)
9. GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL Movie Theme Song -- Frankie Laine (3:00)
10. Bat Masterson TV Theme (1:09)
11. Maverick TV Theme (1:19)
12. Rawhide TV Theme (1:06)
13. Gunsmoke Opening & Theme (1:25)
14. Bonanza TV Theme (0:58)
15. The Rifleman TV Theme (1:08)
16. Wild Wild West TV Theme (0:56)
17. Roy Rogers Show Theme (1:57)
I am usually reluctant to purchase a CD like this one. I've never heard of Breakable Records and suspected that it might be re-recordings by some unnamed singers or orchestras. But I was proved wrong.
All of the tracks are taken from original sources on radio, TV and movies.
There are many real gems on this CD.
The first track is a long one called "Gene Autry Radio Audition." It's taken from the transcription disc of the first Gene Autry Radio Show. So even though the sound quality is not great, the historical value is significant and Gene is always a pleasure to hear. There is quite a bit of dialogue, but Gene does sing a few songs including his classic theme song, "Back in the Saddle Again."
Following that first track are four TV western themes taken right from the original shows. Several of these are quite rare, like: "Buffalo Bill Jr" and "The Range Rider." The themes are heard complete with the opening TV announcements.
Then for movie fans there are four marvelous excerpts from popular western films. The sung theme,"Settle Down Little Doggies," from RED RIVER is one of the great western classics. Fortunately, the entire soundtrack of RED RIVER has been recorded on CD.
I'm not aware of HIGH NOON and RIVER OF NO RETURN songs being released before in their original soundtrack versions. "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" ( Dimitri Tiomkin-Ned Washington) is sung by Tex Ritter, and " River of No Return" ( Lionel Newman-Ken Darby) is sung first by Tennessee Ernie Ford and then later by Marilyn Monroe in her sexy sultry voice. "Gunfight at OK Corral" is another classic by the songwriting team of Tiomkin and Washington and is sung by the dynamite voice of Frankie Laine.
The remaining eight tracks all are TV themes from well known western shows, mostly from the 1950s and '60s. Where else will you get to hear the rarely heard themes for "Bat Masterson" and "The Riflemen," as well as better known ones, such as "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza"?
The final track is right from the Roy Rogers Show, including announcer's introduction and the singing of "Happy Trails" by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
For tech nerds, this disc may not suit their standards for modern day digital sound.
But to clarify matters, this statement is printed on the back of CD booklet:
"Due to the age and obscurity of archival source material, slight audio inconsistencies may appear, which are not the result of any defects in this recording."
That's what I call "truth in advertising." If only more CDs were this honest with their product! Who cares about Dolby Digital or some other high tech marvel, when you have these great vintage themes?
BEST OF THE WEST REVISITED is a real treasure for oldtime western fans. For those who want a great remembrance disc of favorite radio and TV shows plus western films, this is the one to get.
-- Roger Lee Hall, 5 November 2003
[Notice: Unfortunately, due to legal problems, this excellent CD has been discontinued by the manufacturer and is no longer commercially available, but might be found through eBay or from a collector. It is well worth looking for.]
A Few Western Links
If you have a website and would like to exchange links, write to:
Cowboy Songs Corral
"Back in the Saddle Again" -- Centennial Tribute to Gene Autry
"Dust" -- Roy Rogers Becomes A Star
"High Noon" and Dimitri Tiomkin
Hopalong Cassidy Music
"The Last Round-Up" -- A Tribute to Billy Hill
The Old Corral -- Chuck Anderson's website about B-western film stars, including music
"On the Banks of the Sunny San Juan" -- Centennial Tribute to Eddie Dean
"The Silver Screen Cowboy Project" (CD Review)
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