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The American Old Wild West in Music
on 19 April 2007
Recorded in a day in 1959 this album combines traditional songs (Billy the Kid, The Strawberry Man, Utah Carol) with a number of Robbins penned classics. Look at the cover - put it to music the result is what you insert and play on your CD. Fantastic.
Highlights are definitely 'Big Iron' which was penned by Robbins based on the recollections of his grandfather a Texas Ranger. It tells the story of a Ranger''s gunfight with an outlaw named Texas Red (based on Billy the Kid). The town predicts the death of the ranger, but he kills his bounty with the quickness of the "big iron" on his hip. Instead of the showdown happening at high noon, the gunfight begins at 11:20.
"El Paso" which like Big Iron stretches for four minutes a problem at the time as US radio stations ever depedent on advertising revenue were reluctant to play tracks over three minutes. When released as a single a short radio friendly version three minutes long was also released but it was the full length version that hit the top of the US charts and a consequent million seller winning a Grammy in 1961 and remains Robbins best known song. It was also covered and endlessly done to death by the Grateful dead at their live concerts.
Quite frankly this is a country landmark. Please though if the word country suddenly makes you think Kenny and Dolly then stop take a deep breath and remember country is a broad genre and the word classic here is used sincerely - this album is the mould from which everything to follow was cast.