Rex Allen (1920-1999) was one of the greatest of the singing cowboys, a musician and movie star who started out in radio as a cast member of the Chicago-based "National Barn Dance" and moved into national fame as a Hollywood idol. Like many stars of the radio era, Allen's hits came before the LP era, although he had a comeback hit in 1962, during the "historical" song fad, with "Don't Go Near The Indians." Allen's son, Rex Allen, Jr., was a significant Top Forty country artist of the 1970s and '80s; although he recorded more mainstream material, he joined his father later in life to record an album of western-themed material. Here's a quick look at Rex Allen's career...
Rex Allen "The Last Of The Great Singing Cowboys" (Bloodshot/Soundies, 1999)
As with most of the best-known cowboy movie stars, Rex Allen had a whole bunch of Tin Pan Alley smoothie to him, and that's what makes these recordings so fun to begin with. It's hard not to compare his cornball crooning with Bing Crosby: Allen had a similarly appealling warmth and natural ease. Right after he made these late-'40s recordings, he landed a Hollywood film contract -- one of the last actors to make it in before tastes changed, and the cowboy movies took a back seat for a decade or two. One of the more unique discs in this series, and certainly worth checking out.
Rex Allen "The Voice Of The West" (Bear Family, 1986)
Fine retro-delic cowboy song sessions, originally released in 1973 as Rex Allen Sings, on the independent JMI label. It's mostly old cowboy standards, although the CD reissue also includes a few songs of newer vintage (by Merle Haggard, and Bob McDill, for example...) A pretty stripped-down acoustic set... This even includes a smidge of western swing, with Johnny Gimble playing the fiddle. This set isn't electrifying, but it's fun.
Rex Allen "Riding All Day -- The Life Of A Cowboy" (Jasmine, 2000)
Rex Allen "Cowboy Under The Western Sky" (Jasmine, 2009)
This disc gathers songs from two albums, Under Western Skies, an orchestral outing recorded with bandleader Victor Young, and Mister Cowboy, which offers a more stripped-down, acoustic version of Allen's style. There are earthier offerings from Allen's catalog, but this is a nice collection for singing cowboy completists.
Rex Allen "The Arizona Cowboy" (BACM, 2005)
Rex Allen "Song Of The Hills" (BACM, 2005)
Rex Allen "The Voice Of The West" (BACM, 2005)
Rex Allen "Sky Boss" (BACM, 2005)
Rex Allen "Rex Allen" (Scimitar, 1998)
Rex Allen "16 Golden Favorites" (Disney, 1961)
Rex Allen "Under Western Skies" (Decca, 1956)
Rex Allen "Mister Cowboy" (Decca, 1958)
Rex Allen "Say One For Me" (Buena Vista, 1959)
Rex Allen "...Sings 16 Favorite Songs" (Buena Vista, 1961)
Rex Allen "Rex Allen Sings" (Hacienda, 1961)
Rex Allen "Faith Of A Man" (Mercury, 1962)
Rex Allen "...Sings And Tells Tales" (Mercury, 1962)
Rex Allen "...Sings Melodies Of The Plains" (Design, 1963)
Rex Allen "The Smooth Country Sound Of Rex Allen" (Decca, 1968)
Rex Allen "The Touch Of God's Hand" (Decca, 1970)
Rex Allen "Boney Kneed Hairy Legged Cowboy Song" (JMI, 1972)
Rex Allen & Rex Allen, Jr. "The Singing Cowboys" (Warner Brothers, 1995)
Rex Allen & Don Edwards "A Pair To Draw To" (Garrett-Deutz, 1999)
Rex Allen "Arizona Cowboy" (Garrett Deutz, 2001)
Hick Music Index