Various Artists

When I Was a Cowboy, Vol. 2

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Yazoo Records' second cowboy compilation has some of the same artists and a few others, like the Crockett Family ("Buffalo Gals Medley"), Paul Hamblin ("The Strawberry Roan"), Buell Kazee, and McGinty's Oklahoma Cowboy Band ("Cowboy's Dream"). The material is equally strong, and much of it, including Harry McClintock's "Jesse James," is absolutely priceless. As with the first volume, there's no biographical material on any of the artists, but the music speaks well for itself -- Jules Allen's "The Girl I Left Behind Me" seems pretty much the basis for every version that has followed since, Rowdy Wright's "I'm A Wandering Bronco Rider" and "I'm A Jolly Cowboy" both have delightfully raw energy, and the Delmore Brothers' exquisitely harmonized "The Fugitive's Lament" is the thematic precursor to every record the Everly Brothers ever cut, especially "Take A Message To Mary." The real find, however, may be Buell Kazee's soaring banjo-driven "The Cowboy Trail," sung in a haunting nasal twang, which is one of the most honest and dramatic pieces among the 23 songs here. The sound is generally excellent, apart from distortion in the opening bars of "The Burial of Wild Bill" by Frank Jenkins & His Pilot Mountaineers, and some unavoidable surface noise evident on Dick Devall's otherwise gorgeous acapella "Tom Sherman's Barroom."

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