Roy Rogers

King of the Cowboys [Bear Family]

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Roy Rogers croons 16 saddle serenades from the late '40s and early '50s on this vinyl anthology of original RCA Victor recordings. The set concentrates on rarities, although two of Rogers' hits are included: "(There'll Never Be Another) Pecos Bill," a tall tale set to music that a live-action Rogers sang with the Sons of the Pioneers in the otherwise animated Disney film Melody Time; and the Top Ten hit "Stampede," in which an organ produces bizarre sound effects meant to mimic a storm but which suggest that flying saucers are making the cattle stampede. The Sons of the Pioneers are credited on three cuts, but various members of the group appear on several sessions. The good-natured songs are done up in Hollywood style, with string-laden arrangements and pop vocal choruses that evoke the idealized west of Rogers' films, where the good are good and the bad better get out of town fast. The collection contains one previously unreleased recording, "Don't Ever Leave Me," that is a sentimental waltz rather than a western song. Although ballads dominate, a handful of finger-snappers such as the boogie "Buck-Eye Cowboy" and the novelty "I'm Gonna Gallop, Gallop to Gallup, New Mexico" pick up the pace. "Hawaiian Cowboy" features some of Rogers' Alpine-style yodeling, and "Hasta La Vista" connects with the Mexican side of the Tex-Mex equation. The King of the Cowboys is aimed at collectors, but anyone who appreciates Rogers' music will enjoy this uncommon collection of humorous, romantic and storytelling songs.