Johnny Western

Gunfight at O.K. Corral

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Johnny Western as he sounded in 1984, which is good -- the voice is still a rich, enveloping baritone, rougher and not as flexible as it was in the early '60s but still pleasing and memorable. His rendition of "Gunfight at OK Corral" won't displace Frankie Laine's, but it has a drive and power all of its own. Stan Jones' "Ghost Riders in the Sky" gets a beautiful workout, as flamboyant vocally as Johnny Cash's was instrumentally -- Jones is also represented by "The Searchers," "Hannah Lee," "Lillies Grow High," and "Cheyenne." Bob Nolan's poignant "Song of the Bandit" (adapted from the English ballad "The Highwayman") is also here, sung with great affection, sincerity, and intensity. Western also covers his own "The Gunfighter," which he wrote for Marty Robbins, and Johnny Cash's "Don't Take Your Guns to Town" -- at this point in his career, Western's voice lacked the expressive range of Cash's. There are also lots of covers of television themes, including two very upbeat medleys of "Johnny Yuma -- The Rebel" (originally a Johnny Cash song on which Western played rhythm guitar), "Bonanza," and "The Ballad of Paladin"; "Bat Masterson" and "Wyatt Earp"; and the theme from "Rawhide." The personnel includes Billy Strange, Art Sparer, Jack Clement (who also produced), and Western on guitars.

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