Riders in the Sky / Saddle Pals

Saddle Pals

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Kids love cowboy songs and Riders in the Sky are perhaps the finest current exponents of that musical tradition, so having them make an album of children's music must have been a no-brainer for the folks at Rounder. And sure enough, the album is a hoot -- though it suffers from a few moments that are sure to annoy anyone over the age of six. Highlights include great versions of Yippie-Yi-Yo and Away We Go", "Old Chisholm Trail" and "Get Along Little Dogies", on which the trio's almost supernaturally smooth harmonies and swinging instrumental attack are shown off to beautiful effect. Their call-and-response rendition of "I'm Going to Leave Old Texas Now" makes charming use of a group of children's voices, as well. But in between the songs there's too much cornball humor, and way, way, way too much use of a weird sort of whinnying hoot that the Riders use to punctuate almost every line of dialogue. Maybe it's some kind of historically authentic cowboy interjection, but it's incredibly irritating, and the dialogue itself isn't funny enough to redeem it. Find a way to edit out the between-track patter, though, and you have a selection of expertly performed cowboy songs that will please parent and child alike.

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