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Riders in the Sky

Riders In The Sky Salute Roy Rogers: King Of The Cowboys – 2015 (Riders Radio Records)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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There's likely nobody better to create a tribute album to the great Roy Rogers than Riders In The Sky. After all, Riders In The Sky's very existence is a kind of tribute to Rogers, as well as others like him. But this act - and this album in particular - is no nostalgic trip. Just listen to the enthusiasm, and musical swing, given to "Don't Fence Me In." This music comes off lively because Riders In The Sky infuse it with energy.

Although you wouldn't guess it from these songs, which describe a life far different from Rogers' actual biography, the singer/actor once lived in a labor camp similar to the kind described in John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes Of Wrath" and actually got his musical start at a radio station in Inglewood, Cal. However, it's escapism of the best kind to hear Riders In The Sky get all mock-Hawaiian with the upbeat and silly "Hawaiian Cowboy."

The album closes, quite appropriately, with "Happy Trails (To You)," Rogers' theme song. Even if life's road looks a little rough at the moment, these western song harmonies bring peace and indescribable sense of well-being. We can thank Roy Rogers for this, and also Riders In The Sky for keeping this music alive.