Clint Eastwood: Cowboy Favorites

Clint Eastwood sings western songs on pleasant television tie-in

With so much incredible material in the Cameo-Parkway vault, most of which hasn’t seen  reissue in fifty years, one has to wonder why Collectors’ Choice decided to make this 1963 television tie-in one of the first C-P original album reissues. When originally issued, Eastwood had been starring in Rawhide since 1959, and though he’d become one of the most famous actors and directors of his generation, his singing career (which also included the 1969 film version of Paint Your Wagon and hit duets with Merle Haggard and T.G. Sheppard) remained mostly a sidelight. This album was the joint product of Eastwood’s background as a pianist and the early-60s penchant for cashing in on television popularity. Unlike the pop and rock records of Ricky Nelson, Shelley Fabares and others of the era, the 33-year-old Eastwood and his producers put together a set of western songs that played well to the actor’s voice. It was a good fit for the times, with Bonanza climbing to its mid-60s peak, and Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” and Gene Pitney’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” having dented the pop charts. Eastwood proves himself a passable crooner (rather than simply a television actor stepping out), and the unnamed New York band (which seems unlikely to have been the hard-charging Philadelphia-based Cameo-Parkway house combo) is sharp but bland – even Eastwood’s jazz background can’t move the band to swing Bob Wills’ “San Antonio Rose.” Collectors’ Choice’s CD reissue includes the album’s original dozen tracks, with Eastwood backed by an all-male chorus, and both sides of his pre-LP single, “Rowdy” and “Cowboy Wedding Song.” [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

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