Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

Riding Your Way: The Lost Transcriptions for Tiffany Music 1946-1947

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Western swing pioneer Bob Wills released his first record in 1935, and was working on an album in 1973 when a stroke ended his musical career, but some of Wills' best and most enduring recordings were made with no intention of commercial release. Between 1946 and 1949, Wills and his band the Texas Playboys cut over 400 songs for a syndicated radio series put together by Wills and business partners Cliff Sundin and Cliffton Johnsen; these sessions came to be known as the "Tiffany Transcriptions," and captured Wills and company in rare form -- while the performances were often off the cuff, with arrangements worked out on the spot, they documented the group in a relaxed yet engaged mood where the bandmembers could stretch out and follow their instincts, and the interplay between the musicians and the inspired soloing more closely reflected the band's on-stage sound than their commercial 78s. While 150 of the Tiffany tracks had been rediscovered and reissued in the '70s, the rest were believed to be lost, but another 49 selections were subsequently discovered in the Warner Music Group's tape vaults, and they've been released on Riding Your Way: The Lost Transcriptions for Tiffany Music 1946-1947. It's hard to say why these performances fell by the wayside, but it certainly wasn't a matter of quality; this music is every bit as satisfying as the other Tiffany material that's previously appeared, and like the earlier tracks, this music is a testament to the vision of bandleader Wills and the skill of his sidemen. Wills created a unique mixture of country, jazz, blues, and pop, and the bracing fusion of genres often suggested the early sound of rock & roll that would emerge within a decade (especially when guitarist Eldon Shamblin played one of his overdriven solos). And whether the band is playing country favorites, jazz classics, pop standards, or even traditional folk or gospel numbers, the Texas Playboys sound fiery and joyous, as the twin fiddles of Wills and James C. Holley, the pedal steel of Herb Remington, and the muted horn work of Alex Brashear come together to give this band a unique personality that borrowed from hillbilly and jazz styles, but was ultimately something else altogether. Considering these performances were drawn from discs cut in the mid-'40s, the audio is very good, clear and well-detailed, and the music is a delight -- it's no wonder Wills can't help letting out one of his trademark "Aw-haw!" hollers on almost every track when the music sounds and feels this good. Riding Your Way is a valuable addition to the library of any Bob Wills fan, and a fine introduction to an often overlooked giant of American music.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:54
2 2:48
3 3:04
4 3:42
5 3:13
6 1:14
7 3:28
8 3:04
9 3:43
10 4:58
11 2:31
12 2:03
13 3:31
14 3:15
15 2:24
16 2:05
17 2:26
18 3:00
19 3:58
20 3:03
21 1:54
22 4:08
23 2:10
24 2:34
25 1:41

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:51
2 2:34
3 2:17
4 3:29
5 2:02
6 2:25
7 2:26
8 1:39
9 2:34
10 2:13
11 2:14
12 2:53
13 2:04
14 2:36
15 2:14
16 2:23
17 3:05
18 2:40
19 2:27
20 2:11
21 2:30
22 3:05
23 2:59
24 2:48
25 2:13
blue highlight denotes track pick