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bob wills

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys

Bob Wills – Ida Red Likes The Boogie

Bear Family – BCD 17647
There’s not a hundred miles left in me – Nothin’ but the best for my baby – Charlie changed his mind – Steamboat stomp – Keep knocking (but you can’t come in) – Don’t be ashamed of your age – I didn’t realize – Ida Red likes the boogie – Trouble, trouble blues – Talkin’ bout you – So let’s rock – Bottle baby boogie – The devil ain’t lazy – Twin guitar special – Snatchin’ and grabbin’ – I’ll have somebody else – Yearning (just for you) – What’s the matter with the mill – Texas drummer boy – Cadillac in model ‘A’ – Sugar baby – Hubbin’ it – Nothing but trouble – Whoa babe – Jolie Blond likes the boogie – I laugh when I think how I cried over you – Bring it on down to my house – Rock-a-bye baby blues – Pray for the lights to go out – I won’t be back tonight

Bob Wills

When I come across a new Bob Wills record, I have an almost Pavlovian reflex: I must buy it. Not to mention that this one is part of the excellent series Gonna Shake This Shake Tonight from the German label Bear Family.
When I come across a new Bob Wills record, I can’t help but buy it. This one is part of the excellent series “Gonna Shake This Shake Tonight” from the German label Bear Family.
At first glance, this compilation seems a bit unbalanced and shaky. The first period, from the first recordings of the Texas Playboys until 1947, is considered the richest by many, yet only seven songs represent it. It’s not much, given the catalog variety, especially since none come from the Tiffany Transcriptions, but perhaps it’s a question of rights. However, it’s a shame to miss out on the dirty and sparkling guitar parts of the great Junior Barnard, which prefigure Rock’n’Roll. Even this selection, for a compilation more oriented towards stirring pieces, forgets phenomenal instrumentals such as “White Heat” or “Playboy Stomp.” But let’s not shy away from our pleasure and enjoy Wills’ vocals on “Yearning,” the Shamblin/McAuliffe duel on “Twin Guitar Special,” or this demonstration of Swing that is “Woah Babe.”
The next part of the collection features 18 titles from the MGM period, which is a great addition. Wills’ MGM period is often underestimated, mainly due to Tommy Duncan’s departure in September 1948. After Duncan left, Wills never found a singer as good or charismatic. The post-war period marked the end of large orchestras. But the Texas Playboys almost reinvented themselves by replacing brass instruments with new guitar, steel guitar, and electric mandolin arrangements, taking their music to new heights and sometimes foreshadowing the emergence of Rock’n’Roll.
Songs like “Ida Red Likes The Boogie,” “Bottle Baby Boogie,” and “Rock A Bye Baby Blues” show the influence of Billy Jack, Bob’s younger brother, who was more in touch with the music of his time. These songs are reminiscent of what Bill Haley would later do with the Saddlemen. The selection also includes blues like “Trouble Trouble Blues” (sung by Bob, not by his brother Luke as erroneously credited in the discography), two excellent songs written by Cindy Walker (“Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Age” and “Hubbin’ It”), and Western Swing gems that can stand up to comparison with the Okeh sides (“I Didn’t Realize,” “I’ll have Somebody Else”).
Unfortunately, things took a downturn when Wills moved to Decca after MGM. The January 1956 session produced “So Let’s Rock,” an attempt to ride the emerging Rock wave that is rather embarrassing. “Sugar Baby,” sung by Darla Darett, is only marginally better.
In 1960, Wills joined Liberty and reunited with Tommy Duncan. From the April 21, 1960 session, Bear Family selected “What’s the Matter With The Mill.” Despite being slightly weighed down by a heavy electric bass, it is nevertheless an excellent swinging song with brilliant solos.
Dating from 1968, “There’s Not A Hundred Miles Left In Me,” is an excellent Honky Tonk. However, it’s not easy to recognize the richness of Bob Wills’ music behind the Nahsvilian production.
“Talkin’ Bout You” comes from one of the last recording sessions by Wills and gives the impression of a man diminished by illness. Fortunately, Bear chose not to present the songs chronologically, which prevents this good compilation from ending on a somewhat sad note.
This compilation may not be the best to showcase Wills’ genius and rich musical career. A selection from the first period or the Tiffany Transcriptions might be preferred. However, for those who would like to hear lesser-known and different tunes, these thirty titles will provide what they are looking for.

Buy it here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis