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Riders in the Sky

Public Cowboy #1: A Centennial Salute to the Music of Gene Autry (reissue) – 2007 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Corinne Brown

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Gene Autry would kiss his horse to hear this sweet sounding re-issue by Riders in the Sky of a recording that was already grand enough the first time around when released in 1996. Tribute albums can be sketchy, especially when they're a compilation of other people's recordings of one man's music, but here the combined talents of the irrepressible Riders more than does the master justice. Renditions of songs sung and written by Gene (and others like Ray Whitely and Billy Hill) will take the listener back to the Golden Days of Western music.

Timing being everything, who can blame this world-renown quartet for cutting a new version of their CD on the centennial of Autry's birthday, coinciding with new biographies remembering the legend? To sweeten the deal, they've added four new bonus tracks: "The Last Roundup," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Riders in the Sky" and "Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle."

Like a crash course in Western music, this collection has some of the most classic and endearing Western songs ever written starting with "Back in the Saddle Again" and followed by others like "Sioux City Sue" and "Mexicali Rose."

If you're new to Riders In The Sky, you couldn't do better than to start right here to hear those smooth four-part harmonies from Ranger Doug, Woody Paul and Too Slim. Besides, where else can you hear a Baldoni accordion these days? Give Joey the Cowpolka King a big hand for that inclusion.