Take Me Back To Tulsa - An anthology of Western Swing
DVD + DVD Audio
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featuring: Bob Wills, Tommy Duncan, Spade Cooley, Marjie Beeler, Smokey Rogers, Tex Williams and Hank Thompson
More than any other popular American music, western swing represents a blend, a combination, a brew of various musical styles and genres. The result is unyieldingly listenable, danceable, and unique. Western music, West Texas fiddle tunes, Dixieland and New Orleans jazz, Big Band swing, urban and rural blues, Tin Pan Alley pop, Spanish music, Jimmie Rodgers songs, polkas, and more these together formed Western Swing.
Titles include: BOB WILLS AND HIS TEXAS PLAYBOYS Take Me Back to Tulsa, Dusty Skies, Adobe Hacienda, Gone Indian, Fiddlin Man, Home in San Antone, Liberty, Lone Star Rag, Goodbye Liza Jane, San Antonio Rose, Bluebonnet Lane, Under a Texas Moonlight, You re From Texas, Time Changes Everything, Take Me Back to Oklahoma, Mama Don t Allow, You Are My Sunshine, Ida Red, Its a Grand Old World, I Hear Ya Talkin , I Wonder if You Feel the Way I Do TOMMY DUNCAN Stay A Little Longer, The Ever Lovin Marshall, Saturday Night in San Antone SPADE COOLEY and His Orchestra We ll Ride the Range on High, I Love to Yodel, The Night We Said Goodbye, Ida Red, Take Me Back to Oklahoma MARJIE BEELER Texas Strip SMOKEY ROGERS Chattanooga Choo Choo TEX WILLIAMS and His Orchestra Tulsa Trot HANK THOMPSON Swing Wide Your Gate of Love
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I disagree strongly with the other reviewer here who complains that this video is "worthless". If there are better early videos of Western Swing bands available, I'd like to know about them. The sad fact is, they simply don't exist, and these performances amount to pure gold.
In the 1940's, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, among other Western bands and Western Swing bands, made countless "B" Westerns with Tex Ritter and other "Cowboy" stars. In those days, live concert footage, especially of the pioneers of Western Swing, was almost unheard of. Aside from their hundreds of audio recordings, which only tell part of the story, little remains of the vast legacy of Western Swing bands, and video records of vintage Western Swing performances are extremely hard to come by. Although the quality of these film clips is generally very poor, they serve as a valuable and fascinating record of Bob Wills and his band, among others, performing some of their greatest hits "live" in the Western movies that were a staple of Saturday matinees. To my knowledge, there simply is no surviving video footage of Bob Wills and his band from pre-1950, aside from these precious clips and a few musical shorts. Therefore, despite their admittedly poor quality, we are lucky to have these film clips at all, especially since the movie studios that produced them had no idea that Bob Wills would one day be an important musical icon, and no real attempt to preserve these performances was made.
This becomes even more important in light of the fact that, if you are familiar with the records of Bob Wills, but have never seen him perform, you're missing half the picture. From his many recordings, Bob Wills was famous for his "calls" or "hollers". When the band was hot, he would frequently shout, "Ahhhhh-hahhhh" or prod them along with such exclamations as, "Take it away, Leon" or "Here's that old Piano Pounder". Or, if the band was playing below his expectations, he would admonish, "Johnny in key, please" or virtually anything else that came into his mind, usually in time with the beat. For this reason, Bob's "hollers" became known as a key part of his performance. But an equally important element of any Bob Wills number was his animation - while the band played, Bob would dance around, clown with the band, and make expressive gestures and faces, all while leading the band with a baton, or his fiddle, or even just his hands. In short, his physicality during his performances was a show in itself, and without these rare film clips, a major portion of the Bob Wills mystique would be lost forever. Therefore, anyone who loves the music of Bob Wills should treasure these rare video clips, despite the limitations of their quality.
For more videos of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, I recommend the DVD "Still Swingin'" which contains some of the same performances, but several additional clips, and many from early television; a few are of higher quality. But Take Me back to Tulsa is also interesting for the inclusion of other Western Swing bands such as Spade Cooley, Tex Williams and a very rare (if admittedly extremely poor quality) clip of Hank Thompson.
Unfortunately for posterity, important video records of some of the 20th century's greatest musical masters are no longer unavailable. If you doubt it, ask anyone, like me, who has tried to find rare video clips of artists such as Bessie Smith (an early favorite of Bob Wills), Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Billie Holiday, Hank Williams, Edith Piaf or countless others. Taken in this context, these clips should be appreciated and treasured for what they are; a rare, fascinating glimpse into a lost but cherished era of musical history.
Kudos to Rounder Records and Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop, whose reputation for preserving and distributing historically important musical performances is well supported by this release.
Nice piece of nostalgia, but worthless if you are looking for the "real" Western Swing of those bygone days.
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