The Singing Cowboy Rides Again

Johnny Bond

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The Singing Cowboy Rides Again Review

by Bruce Eder

This 18-song collection, recorded in July of 1976, features Johnny Bond backed up by the Willis Brothers, doing a superb series of songs mostly associated with the singing cowboys of B-Westerns, although several have since become country & western hits in their own right, separate from the movies. Bond's singing and enunciating are a bit stiffer than Gene Autry's on songs like "Back in the Saddle Again" and "South of the Border," although he also has a bit more grit in his presentation -- the duet between Bond and the Willis Brothers on "Cool Water" makes for a compelling mix of voices. Their delightfully jaunty work on "One More Ride" and "Take Me Back to Tulsa" should also be heard, just for the sheer fun of their approach. The instrumentation is mostly guitars (acoustic, electric, dobro, and steel), with fiddle, accordion, piano, and some restrained brass on the numbers that call for it, such as the moody and atmospheric "Along the Navajo Trail." The attempt was to find a compromise between old and new electric sounds, and it mostly worked. Other songs include "Sky Ball Paint," "San Antonio Rose," "Streets of Laredo," "High Noon" (on the original recording, Bond played guitar behind Tex Ritter), and "Cimarron," the latter one of Bond's most beloved original songs, originally sung by the Jimmy Wakely Trio. Officially designated as the Red River Valley Boys, the group, in addition to Bond and Vic and Guy Willis, included Curtis Young on vocals, with Johnny Gimble and Pete Wade, among others, providing the instrumental support.

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