Rex Allen

Lonesome Letter Blues

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Rex Allen cut these 12 sides in association with his friend Johnny Henderson in the early '60s (probably before "Don't Go Near the Indians") with producer E. J. Henke, and Collectables has them courtesy of Home Cooking Records. This is nice, slightly rough-hewn country-pop mixed with a little blues and traditional-sounding stuff, at its best a little more authentic than the kind of stuff that Roy Rogers or Jimmy Wakely did as solo recording acts. "Lonesome Letter Blues" shows off Allen's voice to best advantage and is a solid piece of country-blues; a few other numbers, such as Johnny Henderson's "The Bell in the Steeple," feature more elaborate vocal backing, with a pretty prominent chorus. Other notable songs include covers of Floyd Tillman's "I'll Keep on Lovin' You" (a great showcase for Allen's smoothest romantic baritone), "Cold Cold War," and "Gotta Have My Baby Back"; Johnny Bond's "Love Gone Cold"; plus a pair of surprisingly lively, almost rockin' little numbers, "Sure As Your Name's Kate" by Marty Robbins and a cover of "Sixteen Hundred Miles." The sound is good, and the notes are surprisingly honest in their sketchiness about these sessions.

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