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Best Of: Legends of Country Music (W/Book)
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Best Of: Legends of Country Music (W/Book)
Genres: Country, Pop
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (27) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (27) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (26) - Disc #4

Though Bob Wills has long been heralded as a country-music icon (an inspiration for artists from Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson through Lyle Lovett and Asleep at the Wheel, and toasted by Waylon Jennings in "Bob Wills Is ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Title: Best Of: Legends of Country Music (W/Book)
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 8/29/2006
Album Type: Box set, Original recording remastered
Genres: Country, Pop
Styles: Classic Country, Western Swing
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaCD Credits: 4
UPCs: 827969385821, 828768341629

Though Bob Wills has long been heralded as a country-music icon (an inspiration for artists from Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson through Lyle Lovett and Asleep at the Wheel, and toasted by Waylon Jennings in "Bob Wills Is Still the King"), the Texas fiddler considered himself more of a jazz bandleader. The Texas Playboys' signature dance-floor style of Western swing encompassed blues, jazz, country, and pop standards, with a sophistication at odds with the era's image of "hillbilly music." This four-disc centennial anthology (a little late, as Wills was born in 1905 and died in 1975) documents the musical progression of the band and its music from regional phenomenon to national treasure. The 105 tracks (remastered, but all previously released) showcase the legendary "twin guitars" of Leon McAuliffe and Eldon Shamblin, the smooth crooning of Tommy Duncan, the irrepressible spirit of Wills himself, and a songbook of classics such as "New San Antonio Rose" (with lyrics added to the original instrumental), "Take Me Back to Tulsa," and "Faded Love." In jukeboxes and roadhouses throughout the Southwest, it is Bob Wills, not Benny Goodman, who remains the "King of Swing." --Don McLeese

CD Reviews

A moving tribute to a great musician !
J. Ross | Roseburg, OR USA | 09/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Born to a poor family in Limestone County, Texas, Bob Wills (the undisputed "King of Western Swing") has become synonymous with that style of music. In 2006, this 4-disc release in Columbia "Legends of Country Music" series is a great way to celebrate his centennial! Wills had learned to play the fiddle by age ten. By the late 1920s, he and Herman Arnspiger were performing in the Fort Worth area as The Wills Fiddle Band. In 1931, they were joined by Milton & Durwood Brown and called themselves Aladdin's Laddies. Disc #1 in this set begins in 1932 with recordings of The Light Crust Doughboys, the band formed after the Light Crust Flour Co. hired the band for radio broadcasts. Because of a trademark, Victor Records called them The Fort Worth Doughboys. By 1934, Wills had formed his own band, moved to Tulsa, and signed with Okeh Records. Disc #2 covers 1937-1940, and disc #3 spans 1941-45. Disc #4 begins with 1946 and ends with Bob Wills' final session (1973 in Dallas).

It's important for such compilations to include a musician's big hits, as well as a sampling of their entire repertoire and influential pieces. We hear many favorites like "Big Ball in Cowtown," "Bubbles In My Beer," "Roly Poly," "Take Me Back to Tulsa" and "Stay A Little Longer." "San Antonio Rose" and "New San Antonio Rose" are both included, the former written in just 30 minutes when Wills needed another number at a recording session. Pandhandle Rag was a top ten hit in 1949. We're given the 1969 version here. Leon McAuliffe's influential "Steel Guitar Rag" appears on disc #1. In the 1960, Wills made the charts with "Shape Up or Ship Out" and "I Don't Love Nobody." Unfortunately, these songs are not provided. And how in the heck could they not have included "Across the Alley from the Alamo"? Oh well ... can't have everything.

With 105 tracks in total, this compilation certainly tells the musical story with both old-time fiddling (e.g. Osage Stomp) and country-styled jazz (e.g. Trouble in Mind, Basin Street Blues) well represented. But don't forget about the times that Bob Wills lived and played his music in, just after the Depression. Many of his fans were poor, the working folks in need of a charismatic performer to look up to. Somewhat of a folk hero, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys traveled the backroads to rural areas in a large bus with a big longhorn steer head on the front. With heavy emphasis on the backbeat and guitar chords played over a moving bass line, the music was infectious an designed for dancing. And then there were the great lyrics, often sung by the great Tommy Duncan. Excellent notes, in a booklet with many excellent historic photographs, are an added bonus in this legends series. All I can say, is that it's a moving tribute to a great musician. So, to quote Bob Wills, "Aaaaa-haaaa!" (Joe Ross, Roseburg, OR.)
What makes Bob holler?
A. W. Schott | St. Louis, MO | 10/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I must own about 30 Bob Wills cd's and this has made many of them obsolete. If you are a Bob Wills fan there is no need for me to convince you of Will's and his band's virtuosity. For those of you who aren't familiar with Bob Wills and western swing music, I think you owe it a hearing. Wills mixed blues, jazz, big band, and western music and literally invented what we know as western swing. The list of great musicians who played with this band are impressive. Not many people realize that Rolling Stone magazine selected Eldon Shamblin as the greatest rhythm guitar player of all time.
The recording quality of this cd is so far above everything else I've heard that it must be stressed here.
What makes Bob Holler? If he were alive today this reproduction of his great music would!
Love Western Swing
Doris Mcintosh | 06/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My husband and I have been a Bob Wills fan for many years. He is 80 and a collector of Bob Wills music. He was truly the "King of Western Swing" and this is a wonderful collection of his music."