Rex Allen Sings 16 Favorite Songs

Rex Allen

Buena Vista / Walt Disney Records, 1961

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


As much as I don't listen to it a lot, I do like a lot of the music of older generations - the music my parents grew up with, or maybe even that my grandparents grew up with. The problem is that today's generation is so wrapped up with the present-day fads that they often don't take the time to check out some of the music that helped make today's possible.

An example is Rex Allen. Another of the singing cowboys, you probably haven't heard of him. (Even my father, who I consider to be knowledgable about all things Baby Boomer, said he didn't know who Allen was.) While he might have been eclipsed by others like Roy Rogers, Allen had a powerful voice that went from baritone to bass just as smooth as the whiskey the bad guys were drinking.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As part of their "Archive Collection", Walt Disney Records recently released Rex Allen Sings 16 Favorite Songs, a 1965 album making its debut on CD. (This disc can only be ordered from Walt Disney; check out their Web site for more information.) Not so much country as often as it was popular music, it still is a disc that provides a looking glass into the past and provides for an enjoyable 40 minutes.

If you pick this up expecting country music in the style of Hank Williams, you might be disappointed. The music contained in these 16 songs has many tinges of older, pre-rock popular music, but there is a distinct Western flavor to the music on this disc. Songs like "The Little Old Church In The Valley," "The Streets Of Laredo" and "The Lilies Grow High" echo a feel of a Western one might have seen in the movie houses back in the '40s and '50s. (One thing that struck me was the darker side of some of the songs, especially those dealing with death - something I wouldn't have expected on a Disney album.)

But there are odes to the present on this disc as well (at least, the present being 1965), with songs like "Lazy River" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" making a strong presence on the listener. No matter what he performs, Allen seems to do it with style and grace - and he keeps even the modern Spice Girls-oriented audience interested.

Sure, some of the tracks might seem to stretch to the point of never ending (never mind the fact there isn't a song on this disc longer than three-and-a-half minutes), and there are occasional throwbacks to corniness ("Who Shot The Hole In My Sombrero?"), but these moments of weakness aren't often, providing for an overall strong release.

Allen might not be the best-known singing cowboy, but as Rex Allen Sings 16 Favorite Songs proves, he should have been. This is easily the most entertaining volume of Disney's "Archive Collection," and is one worth the trouble of searching out online.

Rating: B+

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Buena Vista / Walt Disney Records, and is used for informational purposes only.