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Tiffany Transcriptions, Vol. 4: You're From Texas!

Many consider the Tiffany Transcriptions the finest recordings made by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. They nearly define western swing, which hit its popular peak in the mid twentieth century, and exude an addictive spontaneity that hasn’t lost its appeal for over half a century. The group’s immense popularity likely derived from its inventive amalgam of country, blues, jazz, swing and even some shades of primordial rock. Churning fiddles, lightly distorted flying guitars, rollicking piano rolls, thumping swing rhythms and Wills’ often hilarious vocal intrusions make this music instantly recognizable and timelessly unique. The Tiffany Transcriptions, recorded for a furniture company in 1946 and 1947, feature a fully live ensemble uncut and unaltered. Occasionally notes get missed and, in the days before perfectionist overdubbing, these rare flubs remain intact (recordings of false starts and complete breakdowns also exist). Wills’ exhortations manage to crack up the lead vocalist more than a few times. Fun fills the air and everyone joins in. Wills even announces the soloists by name, graciously conceding the floor to some very impressive musicians. Though the initial collection spans ten albums, many more recordings lurk in vaults awaiting discovery. Some of these lost recordings appeared in a two disc set in April, 2014 called “Riding Your Way, The Lost Transcriptions for Tiffany Music. ” More will probably arrive. Volume Four of the original ten volume set featured a Texas theme in title and song theme. “You’re From Texas” opens with the Playboy’s unforgettable theme song based on the excellent “Nancy Jane. ” The title track starts with a great ad-libbed moment (or at least a very effective scripted moment) after Wills howls “Texas, our home state,” he suddenly says “what you grinnin’ about?” and a band member answers “mine too. ” Without missing a beat, Wills drawls his trademark “yeaaaah!” Wills’ commentary on the line “you got a smile like an acre of sunflowers” nearly breaks down vocalist Tommy Duncan. “Beaumont Rag” provides yet another great example of the band’s ability to define swing. “Lum & Abner Special” begins with a tribute to fans who wore out 21 copies of Wills’ staggeringly popular “San Antonio Rose. ” They then play an incredible version featuring a rather heavy, chunky and almost jarring guitar part where horns usually play in the song’s introduction. Other highlights include the early cowboy “Little Joe the Wrangler,” the not so incredibly politically correct, but swinging “Across the Valley From the Alamo,” the stirring “Along the Navaho Trail,” the yearning ballad, “My Brown Eyed Texas Rose,” has Wills poignantly crooning with Duncan and the instantly recognizable “Red River Valley,” which the band transforms into a raucous foot stomping swing number. A closing version of The Playboy’s theme bookends the album and attains adequate parallelism. Though this fourth volume contains numerous high points and amazing tracks, it doesn’t quite have the power and pull of the three preceding volumes. Things get off to a frenzied start and then the energy lapses for a few songs, only to pick up briefly and sag a little again before the set ends. No one would probably call anything here outright awful or even missable, just not precisely up to the band’s and the Tiffany Transcriptions’ usual stellar standards. It still delivers enough western swing oomph to make more than a few listens worthwhile. The effect may even heighten for those actually from Texas. Texan or not, swing away. Check it out!

Product description Track Listings 1. Texas Playboy Theme (Opening) 2. You're From Texas 3. Beaumont Rag 4. Lum And Abner Special 5. Texarkana Baby (Take 1) 6. Little Joe The Wrangler 7. New Spanish Two-Step 8. Texas Plains 9. Home In San Antone 10. Blue Bonnet Lane 11. Across The Alley From The Alamo 12. Along The Navajo Trail 13. Spanish Fandango 14. My Brown Eyed Texas Rose 15. Red River Valley 16. Texas Playboy Theme When Kaleidoscope Records first issued these live-in-the-studio records on vinyl, they were grouped by theme, however loosely. This particular set centers around the subject of–what else?–Texas, making it more “country” than the other volumes though it still boasts the jazz-oriented musical interplay that defined the Playboys. Therefore, there are a number of fiddle tunes, cowboy songs, and Mexican melodies included, along with a few of Wills’s most famous Texas-centric classics, such as “Home in San Antone,” “Across the Alley from the Alamo,” and “San Antonio Rose,” retitled here as “Lum & Abner Special.” –Marc Greilsamer

 

 

 

Tiffany Transcriptions, Vol. 4: You’re From Texas! Review

 

Without getting into the history: this is just good music suitable for anyone at any time with ears. This is the real deal in regard to Western Swing. The Tiffany recordings were done for the Tiffany Furniture Company of Oakland, California in the mid 1940s. They were sold to radio stations as music to play over the air along with or without commercials for the furniture company. This was back when playing normal commercial records on the radio was still a novel thing. If you look on the discography you will find there were more than a hundred of recordings done by Wills over the years for this operation. So even if Rounder has put out seven or eight volumes of this music, they are still just offering the best of the collection. These were rare treats among the collectors. I remember first hearing about them around 1977 when a friend of mine who lived in NYC mentioned he knew someone in Indiana who had taped copies of these records. I remember how I treated the tape he made me like a golden jewel, carrying it with myself personally when I moved. People I know who actually heard the Texas Playboys play during the 1930s and 1940s say the Tiffany recording are the closest to the way the Playboys sounded live of all their recordings. This is the repertoire. Since the Tiffany transcriptions were not commercial recording, they recorded all the songs the Playboys would play at live dates, and not just songs they recorded which were usually filtered by the Columbia, MGM, and MCA operation to make sure they recorded songs that had the right publishing and were charting for others. This recording is atypical of the Tiffany recordings in that there are no non-Western Swing pop hits and I think almost every tune here was actually recorded on the Playboys’ Columbia Records. On other Tiffany recordings you can hear the Playboys make wonderful music on Nat King Cole’s Straighten up and Fly Right, Basie’s Swing Blues, Ellington’s Take the A Train, Dinah Shore’s Sentimental Journey, and even a great instrumental on the theme from the movie Mission to Moscow!There is one masterpiece on this CD that is worth the whole price, and that is the great Along the Navajo Trail. While it sounds like a Western tune, it was actually a hit first done by one of the minor white swing bands. However, on this cut Tommy Duncan’s singing and the supurb unison and solo work of Noel Boggs, Tiny Moore, and Lester Barnard Junior make this a treat. This is a fervent passionate, beautiful, bluesy cowboy song. It needs more recognition and repetition. The recording quality isn’t always as good as the Columbia and or even the MGM sides. They were recorded in a local studio in the same building as Oakland’s Fox theater. The Playboys simply recorded them all day whenever the tour schedule took the Playboys into the San Fransisco Area. They cut tunes without rehearsals, on the first take, cutting five or six or seven sides in a day, as opposed to the standard recording studio concept of 4 sides in three hours. Yet, on a number of these tunes they really cut lose in instrumentals they way they don’t on the commercial disks. If you love the repartee between Bob and the Band, you get a lot more of that on these tunes than on the commerical records. What these records represent for the history of Western Swing is priceless. The guitar trio sound grew out of the duos that Eldon Shamblin and Leon MacAufliffe did with Wills before WWII. When Jimmy Wyble (who went on to be one of the key Jazz guitarists of the 1950s and 1960s) and Cameron Hill came in during the War and were joined by Noel Boggs, that sound was perfected. On these sides we hear it bluesier and hotter played by Junior Barnard or Eldon on guitar, Tiny Moore on Mandolin, and Boggs or Herbie Remington on steel guitar. You don’t get as much of this on the contemporary Columbia sounds, although you did on the first MGM sides there was a revival -Read Reviews-

A long time fan of Bob Wills, I keep coming back to the Tiffany Transcriptions in general and volume 4 in particular. This one is the best! It has what I consider the best version of "San Antonio Rose" recorded by Bob and the Boys. Also "Home in San Antone" and "You’re from Texas" are stand-out performances.

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