Although country swing originated in Texas and Oklahoma, by the '40s and '50s many of its best performers were playing and recording in Southern California. In part, this was because many Texans and Oklahomans moved west during this time; in part, it was also because major record companies were starting to record country in Los Angeles. This is a first-rate collection of 20 Hollywood-recorded western swing, or heavily western swing-derived, tracks from 1945-64, mostly done for Capitol, and most done between 1954-55. There are fine cuts by Bob Wills, Spade Cooley, Tommy Duncan, Hank Thompson, Merle Travis and Tex Williams (the massive hit "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)"). Of equal stature are selections by less famed names like boogying pianist Merrill Moore (with a version of "Down the Road Apiece"), Woody Guthrie's cousin, Jack Guthrie, early rockabilly-type music by Cliffie Stone, and steel guitar virtuoso Leon McAuliffe. This was a time at which country music was gracefully incorporating influences from a wide variety of genres: blues, swing jazz, pop, cowboy music and boogie. That eclecticism made this one of the most interesting points of country's evolution, and this compilation captures some high points of this phase well.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger