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Replay: Bob Wills

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Album Review

The Great Bob Wills was issued in 1965 on the Harmony label as an overview, by and large, of the Texas Playboys' recordings in the first years after World War II. The tracks come almost entirely from 1945-1947, though "Bob Wills Special" was recorded in 1940 and the scorching "Fat Boy Rag" was initially recorded in 1938. Standouts are the burning "Bob Wills Schottische," an instrumental with a killer barrelhouse piano solo in the middle. There's also "Bob Wills Boogie," in which everybody gets to tear it up for a few bars. These sounds are the first real instances of the guitar style that became known as the rock & roll sound, full of bent, driving notes, along with a I-IV-V blues/boogie pattern in overdrive. There are a couple of vocals by Harley Huggins, and "Staccato Waltz," where the Playboys' Tommy Duncan duets with the McKinney Sisters. This set not available by itself on compact disc, but is part of a two-fer on the Collectables label with Remembering...The Greatest Hits of Bob Wills (Col 7550). The Great Bob Wills is an excellent showcase for the versatility of Wills and his band at one of their creative peaks.


Born: 06 March 1905 in Kosse, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Bob Wills' name will forever be associated with Western swing. Although he did not invent the genre single-handedly, he did popularize the genre and changed its rules. In the process, he reinvented the rules of popular music. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys were a dance band with a country string section that played pop songs as if they were jazz numbers. Their music expanded and erased boundaries between genres. It was also some of the most popular music of its era. Throughout the '40s, the band...
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