Asleep at the Wheel - 20 Greatest Hits
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The finest tracks from the modern-day heirs to Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys! Includes hits like The Letter That Johnny Walker Read; House of Blue Lights; Bump Bounce Boogie; Nothin' Takes the Place of You; Route 66 , and Miles and Miles of Texas , plus the Grammy-winning songs Red Wing; Blues for Dixie; Hightower , and One O'Clock Jump , and even two unreleased demos!
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After all this time, no single CD or even a boxed set can cover all the music this band has recorded--but for a single, "best of" disc, this one is hard to beat. Of course, "AATW" diehards will want more than this--much more--but for the casual listener, this is a marvellous CD that is never going to become boring or dated. I first played this disc in my car, driving out in the country--a perfect combination !
Texas swing is alive and well in this music. It wouldn't be hard to imagine the ghost of Bob Wills near the stage, tapping his feet and grabbing his fiddle ! At the same time, these twenty tracks really highlight the versatility of the band. For example, I think that the lovely ballad " Texas Me and You" has always been one of AATW's best songs. Of course there are jump tunes aplenty here--"Take Me Back to Tulsa", "Bump Bounce Boogie", "Route 66", "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" ( Ray must be a Louis Jordan fan too ! ), and "Corrina Corrina" to name a few. Guests like Brooks and Dunn, Lyle Lovett and Bela Fleck add to the fun. Speaking of fun, Ray Benson really knows how to inject humour into a song too, for example, the old Tex Williams classic, "Smoke ! Smoke ! Smoke ! ( That Cigarette ). A couple of previously-unreleased songs round out a terrific CD.
Bottom line--a wonderful, one-disc retrospective of a great band that has shunned gimmicks and fads to remain true to its roots. Mr. Benson--if you ever read this--Thank You !
Obviously AATW recorded many of these songs many times. Only "Route 66" came to mind as having a better version elsewhere, because the vocals here didn't have the style I prefer.
The other vocalists (mostly Ray and Chris) were right on target. Ray conveys such energy and fun in the rousing "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" and the amusing "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette" and others, when he and the band let loose. His voice is not a classically great voice, but he seems so well-suited also to "Miles and Miles of Texas" and similar, more moderate tunes. Ray must believe in the old chestnut, "Know thyself".
This is not the album if you want to feature Chris' vocals. She leads on only three.
The liner notes could have used more retrospective. If the band wants this to be considered a key collection, now would have been a good time to provide some more text about the band and the specific songs. They ended up with a relatively sparse amount, in my opinion, and even had a couple of typos in the list of songs.