Various Artists

Cowboy Songs, Ballads, and Cattle Calls from Texas

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AllMusic Review by

Recorded in the '40s by the Library of Congress (usually by John Lomax), all of this material was Texan in origin, and sung by Texans. That even holds true of the performance by Lomax (originally of Dallas) himself, who sings "The Buffalo Skinners." If, for instance, folkloric recordings of field hollers could be seen as several-steps-removed ancestors of the blues, these tracks are likewise several-steps-removed ancestors of cowboy and country music. All but two of the selections are a cappella solo vocals, and indeed one is not a "song" as such but a spoken conversation between Lomax and Sloan Matthews about cattle calls, with Matthews periodically demonstrating actual cattle calls. The slightly muffled fidelity and stark, unaccompanied performances make this unlikely to interest the general listener, but it's an important collection of tunes illustrating aspects of the roots of cowboy and Texan culture.