EARLY SIDES 1929-1931 (4CD BOX SET)
Gene Autry is mostly remembered as one of the world's favourite cowboys - a movie star tearing across the western plains on Champion the Wonder Horse but before his silver-screen success, he was already famous for his country music, making hundreds of records for at least half a dozen labels. In the very beginning, before he developed his own style, he'd mimicked the singing brakeman Jimmie Rodgers, covering dozens of his songs and, because the record buying public just couldn't get enough blue yodels and railroad tunes, Gene found his popularity.
Recording both solo and with his sometime partner, multi-instrumentalist Frankie Marvin, he ripped through Rodgers' numbers like Waiting For A Train, My Rough And Rowdy Ways and various Blue Yodels but he was no mere copyist. He developed his talent as a songwriter with a penchant for the blues, rapidly producing songs about hard travelin', bear cats, train whistles, dust pans, do-right daddies and high steppin' mamas. His memories of his days as a youngster on a farm in Tioga, Texas enabled him to produce rural stuff like Valley In The Hills, There's A Good Gal In The Mountains and Stay Away From My Chicken House with good authority. Although Gene played perfunctory guitar, he knew how to arrange a tune to best effect and Frankie Marvin was always there to beef things up with his superb steel guitar work and imaginative harmonica playing.
Gene Autry was an important cog in the wheels of country music and there's something magical and inspiring about these great old-time tunes. I'm thrilled that JSP and their remastering experts have presented us with this wonderful compilation. Don't overlook this superb boxed set!
Review Date: November 2009