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Riders in the Sky

Public Cowboy #1: The Music of Gene Autry – 1996 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Paula Williams

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Gene Autry, the original Singing Cowboy, was always our idol, ready to save the day. While heroes like that have tumbled into the sagebrush with the last of the tumbleweeds, Riders in the Sky have been keeping the legends alive. They've incorporated much from Autry in their routines, from his repertoire to their variation on his Cowboy Commandments, "The Cowboy Way. "

It's no surprise that they'd record his songs as they've done here. Nor is it a surprise that they'd be true to Autry's arrangements of classics like "Back in the Saddle Again" or "Mexicali Rose."

The Riders don't duplicate, though, adding their trademark western harmony and Ranger Doug's yodeling along with an extra bit of Mexico in "South of the Border." If you want unusual versions of these lifelong favorites, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a loving tribute to a legend, or wish to pass your favorites along to the young'ns, "Public Cowboy #1" is ideal. For Riders in the Sky, changing Gene Autry just wouldn't be The Cowboy Way.