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Asleep at the Wheel

Live At Billy Bob's Texas – 2003 (Smith Music Group)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Asleep at the Wheel

Ray Benson and Asleep At The Wheel have been the preeminent western swing band for more than 30 years, and this live collection is representative of their best work.

The expected signature tunes are here, including Bob Wills' "Take Me Back To Tulsa," Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In," and Bobby Troup's "Get Your Kicks On Route 66," as well as Benson originals "Dance With Who Brung Ya," "Boogie Back To Texas" and "Hang Up My Spurs And Saddle."

At one point, Benson references the joke from "The Blues Brothers" movie that "we play both kinds of music - country and western". Several tracks represent the country influence, including Haydn Vitera's rendition of Freddy Fender's hit "Before The Next Teardrop Falls," as well as Jason Roberts' versions of Hank Thompson's "Six Pack To Go" and George Strait's "Amarillo By Morning."

One of the highlights is Benson's performance of Townes van Zandt's "If I Needed You," previously recorded for a Van Zandt tribute album.

In addition to Benson (guitar), Roberts (fiddle, guitar) and Vitera (fiddle) the band is rounded out by David Miller (bass), John Michael Whitby (piano), Jim Murphy (steel guitar and sax) and guest performer Cindy Cashdollar (steel guitar).

With this outstanding effort, Asleep At The Wheel do their part to keep western swing vital.