The Sons of the Pioneers

RCA Country Legends

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The Sons of the Pioneers recorded for RCA labels from 1944 to the late '60s, a period that came long after the group had waxed the originals of "Cool Water" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," and also after the former Leonard Slye (aka Roy Rogers) had moved on to a solo career. Still, the backbone of the group -- vocalists Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer plus the hot fiddle-guitar tandem of Hugh and Karl Farr -- remained intact, and the Pioneers often wrote excellent material. Their volume in the RCA Country Legends series includes only 16 tracks, but it's a perfectly selected compilation, perhaps skimping on the hits but, in the process, taking in all manner of intriguing material. These latter-day versions of "Cool Water" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" may not exert the primal force of the originals, but they're equal in quality and, thanks to the Pioneers' long screen time in Westerns during the '40s, just as familiar to listening audiences. Steering away from the obvious hits, the compilation includes the controversial antiwar screed "Old Man Atom," a pair of 1946 instrumentals from the Farr Brothers that illustrate how far the influence of jazzmen Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang permeated, and "Blue Shadows on the Trail," their contribution to Walt Disney's Melody Time (which also reunited them with Rogers). It also finds them easily adjusting to changing times with a pair of late-'40s honky tonk chestnuts ("Grievin' My Heart Out for You" and the slightly outsized "Cigareetes, Whusky and Wild, Wild Women") and a 1952 cover of the early trucker hit "Diesel Smoke."

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