|Roy Rogers - King of the Singing Cowboys|
|Written by Eileen Forster Keck|
Roy Rogers not only had Trigger, his talented palomino, he had a voice perfect for western swing and cowboy ballads. This compilation is a nice mixture of cuts from several radio shows and his television show. He was a frequent guest star on many radio programs, and also often hosted shows of his own.
This very popular 'King of the Singing Cowboys' was actually raised in Cincinnati and Duck Run, Ohio. It wasn't until he was 19 years old that he moved to California to pick peaches and drive trucks. Between those jobs he and a cousin, Stanley Slye, formed a musical duo, and this led to other musical ensembles. By 1934, about four years later, he had formed The Sons of the Pioneers, a group that was to greatly influence popular western music.
The Sons of the Pioneers held regular radio jobs, which in turn brought them into the movies. Still as Leonard Slye (and for a short time as Dick Weston), Rogers sang in films. In 1938 he finally became Roy Rogers for Republic Pictures in Under the Western Stars.
This particular CD begins does not include any recording from Rogers' films, but is composed of cuts from radio programs aired in 1943 and 1944, with additional 1954 tracks taken from the Roy Rogers Show, which first aired on television in 1951.
The chipper "Cowboy Wedding" leads off, and hands the reins to "Streets of Laredo", a ditty about the funeral of a cowboy who knows he's gone bad but repents at the end. It's more fun than you'd think.
There is a rousing spiritual, "This Old House", and the up-tempo "Y'all Come" also keeps the pace rolling right along. "My Little Buckaroo" is an affectionate sort of lullaby. Rogers had the gift of delivering a sentimental tune without a lot of gush, not an easy task.
Some of these tracks also include a bit of banter before or within the tune, and Rogers' easy-going manner and dry humor come through very well, especially in his exchanges with Johnny Mercer.
King of the Singing Cowboys is a good selection of western swing in general, and a fine example of Roy Rogers in particular as he worked with wife Dale Evans, The Sons of the Pioneers, The Mello Men, and others. About the only thing missing is Trigger.