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Twilight On the Trail

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Album Review

For its sixth long-player by Jimmie F. Rodgers (in just two years!), Roulette Records has him doing cowboy songs, which is not a bad idea. He had the voice for the genre and the repertoire suits him, even if it is top-heavy with songs identified with the Sons of the Pioneers, ideally using more than one singer. And the arrangements don't exactly leave Rodgers to his own devices, and that is the problem with a record like this for modern listeners — the producers wanted to make this album as accessible as possible to a light pop audience, and so it all ends up a little bit too far toward that side of the musical spectrum. One wishes it were possible to go back to the multi-tracks and strip off some of the accompaniments on some of the more heavily produced tracks, which would greatly alter the album's center of gravity. Rodgers does well with familiar songs such as "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and, especially, "Cool Water" — the orchestrations (especially the horns) are obtrusive at times, but the youthful innocence of Rodgers' high tenor voice overcomes those excesses. Indeed, while the accompaniment is pure pop, Rodgers' performances have a simple, basic honesty that keeps the recording as a whole close to the spirit of the compositions. Additionally, this particular record makes an excellent companion volume to Rodgers' earlier folk song album, and the two would make a good combined reissue.


Born: 08 September 1897 in Meridian, MS

Genre: Country

Years Active: '20s, '30s

His brass plaque in the Country Music Hall of Fame reads, "Jimmie Rodgers' name stands foremost in the country music field as the man who started it all." This is a fair assessment. The "Singing Brakeman" and the "Mississippi Blue Yodeler," whose six-year career was cut short by tuberculosis, became the first nationally known star of country music and the direct influence of many later performers, from Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, and Hank Williams to Lefty Frizzell and Merle Haggard. Rodgers sang about...
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Twilight On the Trail, Jimmie Rodgers
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