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Marty Robbins

Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

(Columbia)

 

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I used to have to listen to this on 8-track in my parents' car on vacation. How great is this album? Even that didn't make me hate it. (I do dislike the updated cover art, though; I miss the original weird pink cover.)

This is an album full of classics, and if you enjoy good old-timey phraseology, you'll love the songs here ("My own gun stood in leather as his bullet tore its path"; "He sure is a frog-walker, he heaves a big sigh / He only lacks wings, for to be on the fly"; "Got an old paint hoss, I'm the guy who's boss / On the hundred and sixty acres that I love!").

You'd have to suspect that this album has loomed large in the childhoods of more than a few songwriters-to-be. Jeffrey Lee Pierce, late leader of The Gun Club, used to claim that

"the two main influences on The Creeping Ritual [Gun Club's first name] were the Marty Robbins LP Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs and Ornette Coleman.... Pierce told an interviewer from one of the mid '80's British music papers that when the Gun Club first started, he came into one of the early band rehearsals with a copy of the Marty Robbins LP, touting it as the band's new direction. As they were basically still just a 2-chord ramalama band, unable to really play their instruments too well, this didn't go down too well. Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs is a pretty good record musically but for a ramalama late '70's punk band it was a bit difficult to assimilate."

(Quoted from an excellent mini-history of The Gun Club -- minus the remark about the Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs having "trite lyrics." Grrrr.)

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