There's a fascinating mix of the old and new on Symphonies of the Sage, 25 radio transcriptions that the Sons of the Pioneers recorded in 1940. First there are the dreamy vocal harmonies of Tim Spencer, Lloyd Perryman, and Bob Nolan conjuring up images of lazy cattle, tumblin' tumbleweeds, and miles of endless prairie. Then there's the instrumental finesse of fiddler Hugh Farr and string-bending guitarist Karl Farr. Songs like the title cut and "Whoopee Ti Yi Yo" feature the Sons of the Pioneers' trademark vocals blending smoothly against a steady swinging beat. Instrumentals like "Cajon Stomp" up the ante on swing and share a common ground with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli's Hot Club work (with the exception being that Farr's guitar is electric on certain cuts). This dynamic combination of traditional harmonies and cutting-edge musicianship will get the blood of the oldest cowboy pumping. Classics like "Happy Cowboy" and "Cool Water" hold up well after 60 years, while the melancholy harmony of the Pioneers can still bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened ranch hand. Greg Adams' liner notes offer a nice historical backdrop to understand how a cowboy band blew into the Windy City in July of 1941. Symphonies of the Sage captures a number of dynamic performances by the Sons of the Pioneers and will be warmly welcomed by cowboys and cowgirls alike.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.