Carl T. Sprague Cowtrails, Longhorns, and Tight Saddles: Cowboy Songs 1925-1929
- Released: June 1, 2003
- Label: Bear Family
Dirty Linen - 4/04, p.49"It's good to have this important historic material, a window to our past, available on compact disc."
- 1.When the Work's All Done This Fall
- 3.Bad Companions
- 4.Following the Cowtrail
- 5.Cow Boy Love Song
- 6.Club Meeting
- 7.If Your Saddle Is Good and Tight
- 9.O Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie (The Dying Cowboy)
- 10.Cowboy's Dream
- 11.Here's to the Texas Ranger
- 12.Boston Burglar
- 13.Rounded Up in Glory
- 14.Last Great Round Up
- 15.Cowman's Prayer
- 17.Utah Carrol
- 18.Two Soldiers
- 19.Wayward Daughter
- 20.Prisoner's Meditation
- 21.Cowboy's Meditation
- 22.Last Longhorn
- 23.Cowboy at Church
- 24.Mormon Cowboy
Personnel: Carl T. Sprague (vocals, guitar); Ollie Olsen, C. R. Dockum, Joe Mints (fiddle).
Liner Note Author: Dennis Williams.
Recording information: Dallas, TX (1925-1929); RCA Studio, Camden, NJ (1925-1929); Savannah, GA (1925-1929).
Illustrator: R.A. Andreas.
Photographer: R.A. Andreas.
Cowboy singer Carl T. Sprague can be credited -- or blamed -- for the fact that the Western wardrobe became a mainstay of singing horsemen and later of country music performers. When he embarked on his career in 1925, inspired by Vernon Dalhart's recording of "The Prisoner's Song," no one combined cowboy hats, boots, and spurs with their stage act. In fact, no one exclusively sang cowboy songs. When Sprague had a national hit with "When the Work's All Done This Fall," he introduced Americans to the cowboy and the songs he sung beneath the prairie moon. It didn't hurt that he had grown up in Texas, been on real cattle drives before attending Texas A&M, and learned the old songs from his Uncle Booth. Cowtrails, Longhorns, and Tight Saddles documents Sprague's early recordings between 1925-1929. The charm of these recordings is their off-the-cuff manner. Sprague's no smooth crooner like Gene Autry, which leaves the listener with a snapshot of cowboy music before commercial embellishments overwhelmed the spare style. A number of songs feature no more than Sprague's guitar and vocals ("Kisses" and "Bad Companions"), while others are adorned with two fiddles ("The Gambler" and "O Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie"). These latter songs in particular offer a nice balance between rusticity and refinement. The sweetened fiddles play a sad waltz behind "Here's to the Texas Ranger" as Sprague's vocal exploits the lyric for all of its romantic charm. Overall, Cowtrails, Longhorns, and Tight Saddles is a nicely conceived collection. It will help collectors of sagebrush ballads fill the gap between the rustic ranch hand of the 1870s and the singing cowboys of the 1930s and 1940s. Extensive liner notes and photos further enhance the package. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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