Sunday, September 2, 2012

#43: Marty Robbins - Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs (1959)

Many of the songs could be the opening/closing credits of western movies. I wouldn't be surprised if half of them have had that honor. Some of it has very country roots while others have some Spanish influences. I don't generally like country, but I think I can make an exception with this album.

They're Hanging Me Tonight
It's (oddly) a ballad, considering the content. The lyrics and story really carry the song. It's got a standard, simple country sound - nothing too complex. There's little to no variation in the instruments, however the vocals are soulful and exceptionally sung. The story is something we've all been through, his girlfriend Flo is leaving him for another guy. The only sound in the room is the sound of his own tears. So he does what every man would do, he kills Flo and her no good boyfriend. "They'll bury Flo tomorrow, but they're hanging me tonight." I enjoyed the song so much, I replayed it as soon as it finished.

El Paso
I don't know where, but I've heard this before. Spanish guitars are featured on an otherwise country song. The harmonies are exceptional on this track. It's yet another song with morally questionable lyrics (kidding). Despite all the songs about guns and shooting people - you'd think it'd get old (it doesn't).

Big Iron
A big song about a big gun. The harmonies just make the song for me. They start high, curve down, then down again. It's such a classic feel - maybe even cliche for the genre, but it works to great effect. All I have to say is that Texas Red is a bad ass, but not quite as much as the ranger. It's stories like this that make the album worthwhile.

All in all, I'm surprised how much I enjoyed it. You can hear how songs like 'Riders on the Storm' was influenced by music such as this. The stories were excellent, the harmonies spot on, and while the instrumentation at times lacked - it added character and simplicity to the music. It makes me want to record one or two of these tracks.

Tomorrow's album: Kate Miller-Heidke's Curiouser.

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