Various Artists

Wanderer's Swing

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AllMusic Review by

Compilations such as this one continue to prove that some of the best fun to be had listening to music comes courtesy of the most obscure artists. It is interesting how often music that was created without any goal of longevity whatsoever turns out to be of such permanent value. This is a collection of groups that performed at various dancehalls throughout Texas, spanning several decades. Few of these groups, about which details are often lacking as a matter of course, thought much beyond the evening's sets. These were simply performers holding forth for dancers, not attempting to record hit singles or masterpieces of creative music. All the same the winds of musical change were sweeping across the country music scene in Texas and it was often groups such as this fanning the currents. Whether these stylistic moves happen with a sharp sense of grace or with the akwardness of tumbling tumbleweed is largely irrelevant. In some way, each of these tracks is some kind of mini masterpiece.

Some fans of this genre will reach this critical conclusion simply based on the names of the bands. Don McCord and His Seven Chords, Dub Adams and His K-Bar Ranch Hands, Grouchy and His Texas Pioneers, and Buster Martin's Bronco Busters are among the outfits represented on more than two-dozen different tracks. Listeners deep into Western swing may recognize the names of a few instrumentalists, but for the most part this is like a police lineup where witnesses are unable to pick out a suspect. There is even a guitarist who calls himself Jesse James. Then there is the subject of drums, an instrument that amusingly enough was only slowly becoming part of the dance music scene on some of these recordings. Although there may be tracks on which the drummer is simply inaudible, the majority of these tracks do not feature percussion -- which may be something of a shock considering the the eventual unbreakable liason between the drumbeat and dance music. Howard Wusterhausen, represented by the track entitled "When You Are Near," is the only performer featured who leads his group from behind a drum kit.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:45
2
2:40
3 2:38
4
2:40
5
3:00
6
3:07
7 2:49
8 2:49
9 2:43
10 2:50
11 2:40
12
2:53
13 2:57
14 2:47
15 2:55
16 2:09
17
2:59
18 2:24
19 2:29
20
2:42
21
2:42
22
2:45
23
2:51
24
2:47
25
2:44
26 2:46
27
3:00
blue highlight denotes track pick