With the rusty door-hinge of a voice he possesses today, it's hard to imagine a time when Clint Eastwood could have been groomed as a singing star, but in the early ‘60s, when he came to fame as the rebellious Rowdy in the hit Western TV series Rawhide, it wasn't such a crazy idea. In 1963, playing off the popularity of the show, Cameo-Parkway released an album featuring Eastwood's versions of classic cowboy-style tunes. While Eastwood is admittedly not an exceptional vocalist, he's not at all bad; this is by no means some Golden Throats-style celebrity train wreck. At the time, there were plenty of equally photogenic young men with no greater vocal ability than Eastwood being promoted as country singers, many with less of an actual musical background than the jazz-schooled actor. Eastwood's soft, somewhat laconic croon might not possess the commanding quality that was de rigueur for the era's country stars, but he never strays off-key, and his style is a kind of cross between legendary cowboy singer Roy Rogers and Dean Martin. Most of the tunes he tackles here were already well-known in hit versions by other artists -- the Sons of the Pioneers' "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," Bob Wills' "San Antonio Rose," Gene Autry's "Mexicali Rose," etc. The loping rhythms, lonesome harmonica, lazy guitar licks, and male backing-vocal choruses are all in keeping with the production conventions of the day for cowboy artists. A couple of non-LP singles sweeten the pot, including the written-to-order "Rowdy," intended as a sort of theme song for Eastwood's Rawhide character. While Cowboy Favorites didn't make Eastwood a C&W star, it wasn't his country music swan song -- years later he would record with Merle Haggard and sing in the films Paint Your Wagon and Honky Tonk Man.
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AllMusic Review by James Allen