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Riders in the Sky

Always Drink Upstream From the Herd – 1995 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Chuck Hamilton

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CDs by Riders in the Sky

Riders in the Sky are back on the trail, with 12 new tracks plus some sound advice (as noted on the title) and still trying to put "western" back in country & western music. Obviously this trio marches to a different drummer since, unlike almost everything else coming out of Nashville, there's no thundering percussion here. Nope, just subtle arrangements and velvety smooth harmonies that's been their stock in trade since 1977. Off-the-wall humor has been their trademark as well, but since much of it's visual, it hasn't always translated very well to records, sometimes even getting in the way of the music. They play it straight, except for "The Trail Tip Song," poking fun at country's often annoying "my old Daddy once told me" cliche. Riders mix old and new songs. Ranger Doug, Too Slim, and Woody Paul do a spirited version of the old TV theme "Rawhide," and their rendition of Eddy Arnold' classic "Cattle Call" may be the best interpretation since Arnold. If you like cowboy songs, you'll have miles of happy trails with this one.