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It's A Good Day

It's A Good Day

July 20, 2010
4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Details

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Into their fourth decade and still doing their part to keep western swing music alive, Asleep at the Wheel continues to create vibrant and musically relevant albums. It's a Good Day is full from cover to cover of polished arrangements with an energy that feels as if the band were performing live. Once again, Ray Benson samples from the western swing genre and is joined by a talented group of musicians and singers, including 82 year old Leon Rausch, who sang for Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in the late 1950s. Leon can still sing and sing well, and is featured on all but one vocal number plus gets into the swing of the Osage Stomp with his electric bass. Benson has had talented players come and go but still has a tight and talented band. Longtime fiddle player Jason Roberts is always a treat to hear, as are more recent Wheel members Eddie Rivers on the lap steel and Elizabeth McQueen whose powerful and melodic vocals evoke memories of great jazz and swing vocalists. Floyd Domino, the original Wheel pianist returns for his second consecutive album and it is hard to imagine a better swing and boogie woogie "piano pounder" as Bob Wills used to call Al Stricklin. Willie Nelson drops in for a joint solo with Leon Rausch, reprising his last appearance on Willie and the Wheel. A wide variety of musical styles are on display here from traditional western swing to blues, big band, and even the rocking boogie woogie of Get Your Kicks (on Route 66), and the whole thing works. This album deserves to be in your collection and I guarantee it will please for years to come.
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Ray Benson has been heading the Austin-based western swing band for 40 years now and, though a lot (over 100) of musicians have gone through its ranks as members, there is still that consistency to carrying on the spirit of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys from their 1940s and 50s hits. Benson has also been able to put together some interesting pairings with the band. Last year's Grammy-nominated "Willie and the Wheel" was just his most recent.

While AATW has been touring the country so has a band name "Bob Wills' Original Texas Playboys" led by vocalist Leon Rauch, who was with Wills from 1958 to the early 60s. Benson has known Rauch for 38 of the 40 years AATW has been in existence so he figured it was about time to have Rauch front the band for an album. Willie Nelson must have been in town when the laid down the tracks because the "Red-Headed Stranger" shows up to duet with Rauch on "Truck Driver's Blues". I'm a big fan of Nelson's but I have to admit that the (slightly) younger Rauch (age 83) sounds better on this track. But, hey, Willie fans may try this Cd with his name on it.

What everyone will find is a fun time and a lot of great music. Equal parts swing than western is the choice of titles included here. Count Basie's hit "Alright, Okay, You Win", Earl Hines' "Rosetta", Peggy Lee's smash "It's a Good Day" are mixed with three Wills'-penned songs and Sheb Wooley's "Mean Woman with the Green Eyes".

The members of the band - with sax, trumpet and clarinet mixing with the fiddle, piano and Benson's guitar - get to stretch out on some numbers and Rauch leaves them to their instrumental prowess for the final track (Wills' "Osage Stomp").

A fun time for all - country fans, jazz fans and anyone wanting to have a good time.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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Format: Audio CD
I've been a Wheel fan for longer than I care to remember. Their music never fails to put a smile in my heart.

By showcasing Leon Rausch, the Wheel honors their rich Western Swing heritage. Having Willie Nelson team up with Rausch on "Truck Driver's Blues" is genuis. Eddie Rivers' steel solo on the cut is as smooth as silk.

The band's Dixie Land take on "Basin Street Blues," all horns, woodwinds and toe-tapping beat is a treat. Benson's love of jazz shows up through his orchestration and vocals. Rausch said he had a ball cutting the record and it shows, especially on this cut.

Two of the CD's highlights are "I Didn't Realize" and "Snap Your Fingers." Rausch handles the lyrics of both songs like the front man he was for so long. Love the guitar solos, the piano, and, of course, Eddie Rivers. The songs make me want to find a dance hall, a long neck and scoot my boots all night long.

"Alright, Okay, You Win" pairs Rausch with the Wheel's fabulous girl singer, Elizabeth McQueen. Rausch leads off, with McQueen adding her special brand of joy to the cut. I'd love to see them do this one live.

The band lets loose on "Osage Stomp," the CD's only instrumental. It's a reminder that while the Wheel have been one of the most entertaining bands for 40 years, they're first and foremost top-shelf musicians who know how to lay it down.

Of course, the "big number" on this CD is "Route 66." According to Rausch and Benson, it was the former Texas Playboy who suggested the band add their own boogie woogie style to the 1946 song. Benson was wise to take the advice of his elder. It's the Wheel's signature tune and it's never sounded better.

Rausch and the whole band get to show off, but it's McQueen who steals the show with her wailing vocals.
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