Moe Bandy

The Ultimate Cowboy Collection

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You have to turn to the back and the small print of this album to discover the legend "all songs performed by Moe Bandy," who is then called as "today's king of cowboy music," perhaps to make up for not having his name on the front cover. The emphasis clearly is on the material, "20 legendary songs from the Wild West," as the front cover puts it, including hits by Bob Nolan, tunes associated with Gene Autry, and efforts written by Broadway and Hollywood writers. The billing is appropriate in the sense that these performances, produced by Bandy's partner Ray Baker in the early '70s, are nearly generic. Bandy just sings each song straight, without much sense that different tones are implied in the lyrics. You'd never know, for example, that Johnny Mercer's "I'm an Old Cowhand" ("I ride the range in a Ford V-8") was a humorously intended satire the way Bandy sings it. At times, the songs benefit from the singer's hands-off approach, which drains sentimentality from some of the fruitier lyrics. But just as often he seems to be missing the point. More seriously from a consumer's point of view, since his split from Bandy, Baker has been offering these recordings indiscriminately to whomever wants to license them. The same 20 tracks, in a different sequence, appeared on Warwick Records' Salutes the American Cowboy album in the U.K. in 1982, and K-Tel has put out versions in the U.S., including Sings Great American Cowboy Songs. So, not only is this second-rate Bandy, but there is also a danger that a fan could buy it more than once.

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