Saturday, July 15, 2017

Westward Ho! Song Wagon of the West by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

This 2017 Jasmine Records CD compilation is a must have for Roy Rogers fans. Featuring 61 songs on two CDs that highlights his career, many of Rogers’ best are included. His marriage to co-star Dale Evans in 1947 only added to his fame, as well as their growing musical catalog. Evans was an accomplished singer and songwriter, and this collection includes many duets with her husband and several wonderful solo songs. Naturally, her two best known compilations, “Happy Trails” and “The Bible Tells Me So” (two versions, both duets) are included. Many of the recordings are real gems, especially those that Rogers recorded with the Sons of the Pioneers. Additional recordings feature Mitch Miller and the Norman Luboff choir. Popular Western classics included are “I Ride an Old Paint,” “Home on the Range,” “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” “Bury Me Out on the Lone Prairie,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “That Palomino Pal of Mine” and more. Rogers also showcases his talent with such film score songs made famous by others such as “Old Man River” (sung by Paul Robeson in Show Boat), and “River of No Return” (famously recorded by Marilyn Monroe in the film of the same name). There are so many stand-out recordings among the 60-plus selections that I give this compilation the highest recommendation. Roy and Dale were devout Christians and many of their religious recordings will bring back fond memories, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and “Since Jesus Came into My Heart” are among the songs that close out the track listing. The liner notes by Robert Nickora are fine but what’s missing is a discography with recording dates. Westward Ho! Song Wagon of the West is a delight. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sadly now represent what I refer to as “Lost America;” that special part of the American experience where the celebrities we loved were genuinely talented, sincere people, and they entertained us tirelessly. Roy Rogers offered a smooth, polished singing voice, one that matched his All-American good looks. His voice was instantly recognizable to several generations of fans who grew up watching his films and television show. Happy Trails!

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