Anthology (1935-1973)

Before the Western-swing stylings of George Strait, Clint Black, Asleep at the Wheel, and Merle Haggard, there was bandleader Bob Wills. A native Texan, Wills didn’t exactly invent the Western-swing genre, but he popularized it as an enduring and irresistible blend of fiddle tunes, jazz, blues, pop songs, mariachi, Dixieland, and swing. It was music to dance to, music for Wills’ most renowned vocalist, Tommy Duncan, to croon to, and, when it was time for his soloists’ jazzy improvisations, music that spurred Wills to cry, ”Ahh-haa!” and ”Take it away, Leon,” calls listeners heeded for nearly 40 years. At times, especially when Wills and his big band played ”New San Antonio Rose,” ”Stay a Little Longer,” ”Take Me Back to Tulsa,” and ”Faded Love,” the music was pure magic, even though Wills outraged country purists in the 1940s by using instruments such as drums, electric guitars, and horns that fell outside the traditional country framework. Much of Wills’ work is being released on CD these days with Anthology (1935-1973), but for all but the most fastidious collector, this two-disc, 32-song set is a fine, comprehensive anthology. A

Anthology (1935-1973)
  • Music