- Number of Discs: 4
- Released: November 26, 2001
- Label: Proper Box Uk
Recorded between 1932 and 1950.
Contains 109 tracks.
Personnel: Bob Wills (vocals, fiddle); Harley Huggins (vocals, guitar); Billy Bowman (vocals, steel guitar); Myrl "Rusty" McDonald (vocals, tenor banjo); Johnny Gimble, Tiny Moore (vocals, electric mandolin, fiddle); Danny Alguire (vocals, trumpet); Billy Jack Wills (vocals, drums); Dean McKinney, Evelyn McKinney, Milton Brown, Tommy Duncan (vocals); Herman Arnspiger, Eldon Shamblin, Durwood Brown (guitar); Lester Barnard, Jr., Doyle Salathiel, Cameron Hill, Jimmy Wyble (electric guitar); Roy Honeycutt, Herb Remington, Leon McAuliffe, Les Anderson, Noel Boggs (steel guitar); Sleepy Johnson (tenor guitar); Bill Mounce, Jimmie Widener, Johnnie Lee Wills, Ocie Stockard (banjo); Luke Wills (tenor banjo); Louis Tierney (fiddle, saxophone); Art Haines (fiddle, trombone); Bob White , Joe Holley, Keith Coleman, Jesse Ashlock, Cecil Brower (fiddle); Charles Laughton (clarinet, saxophone, trumpet); Ray DeGeer, Don Harlan, George Balay, Wayne Johnson (clarinet, saxophone); Woodie Wood (clarinet, alto saxophone); Robert McNally, Joe Ferguson , Tiny Mott (saxophone); Benny Strickler , Everett Stover, Jamie MacIntosh, Tubby Lewis, Alex Brashear (trumpet); Neil Duer (trombone); Millard Kelso, Doc Lewis, Morris Billington, Al Stricklin (piano); Gene Tomlins, William E. Dacus, Monte Mountjoy, Johnny Edwards , Bob Fitzgerald, Tommy Perkins, Johnny Cuviello (drums).
Liner Note Author: Adam Komorowski.
Recording information: Chicago, IL (02/09/1932-04/27/1950); Dallas, TX (02/09/1932-04/27/1950); Hollywood, CA (02/09/1932-04/27/1950); Jefferson Hotel, Fort Worth, TX (02/09/1932-04/27/1950); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (02/09/1932-04/27/1950); Saginaw, TX (02/09/1932-04/27/1950); Sound Recorders, San Francisco, CA (02/09/1932-04/27/1950); Trianon Ballroom, Oklahoma City, OK (02/09/1932-04/27/1950); Universal Studio, San Francisco, CA (02/09/1932-04/27/1950).
Everyone who's ever explored Western swing knows that Bob Wills' music was revolutionary, but any fan who hasn't listened to the music on disc one of this collection probably doesn't realize how revolutionary it really was. Most modern retrospectives concentrate on music that Wills made after his signature sound was firmly established, but the earliest (and seldom heard) sides here are fascinating in that they reveal the specific foundations for Wills' great synthesis. Old-timey fiddle tunes, primitive jazz, blues, gospel -- the breadth of his repertoire was staggering, and his bands not only played those myriad disparate genres, but mastered them utterly. There are dozens of seldom-heard gems throughout this four-disc set, but none more exciting than those found early on: "Get With It," with Leon McAuliffe's jazzy, astonishingly dissonant guitar solo that predates Scotty Moore's rockabilly licks by nearly 20 years, Tommy Duncan's brilliant, jazzy yodeling on "I Ain't Got Nobody," the beautiful gospel ballad "There's No Disappointment in Heaven," "Basin Street Blues," and on and on. The accompanying 50-page booklet contains a nice historical essay and rare photographs, but may be problematic to researchers in that its session notes are sometimes inaccurate. In terms of the music, however, nothing but good words can be said. Many of these songs have probably never been heard by CD-era fans, being previously available only on Bear Family's massive box set, and every single one of Wills' hits are included, as well as many of the classic Tiffany Transcriptions. And all for under $25. ~ Jim Smith