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Various Artists

Christmas On The Range - 26 Festive and Swingin' Country Tunes

Review by Gary Hill

This collection of old school country holiday songs is just plain fun. Not everything here is my kind of music by any means. It's a tribute to the entertainment value, then, that I found it a joy from beginning to end. This would be a fine addition to just about any Christmas music collection.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - When It’s Christmas On The Range
A slow moving old school country sound is at the heart of this number.
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) - Jolly Old St. Nicholas
Organ is the central instrument on this tune. It's less country song and more pop music of the time. It has some cool clean guitar soloing later along the road. It's an entertaining song.
Gene Autry - Here Comes Santa Claus
This bouncy little tune is a classic. It has some country elements, but also some jazz and more of those vintage pop textures.
Bill Monroe - Christmas Time’s A-Coming
Very much a hillbilly tune, this is fun stuff. It's an up tempo piece.
The Louvin Brothers - It’s Christmas Time
A slow, balladic piece, this has some country elements, but is more of a crooner type song.
Ray Salter & The Twin City Playboys - Christmas Decoration
There is a little early rock and roll built into this number. It's a fun tune that has aged a bit better than some of the rest. It has some real country in the vocal department.
Little Jimmy Dickens - No Place Like Home On Christmas
This is much more of a down home country number. It's not bad, but not really my thing.
Tex Ritter - Christmas Carols By The Old Corral
Very much of the down-home variety, this is again solid, but not something that fits my tastes.
George Morgan - Blue Snowfall
This is a bit less country and more vintage pop music based. It's a ballad that's effective.
Ernest Tubb - White Christmas
Here we get a hillbilly take on an old Christmas classic.
Cliff Bruner & His Texas Wanderers - Snowflakes
A shuffling kind of swinging tune, this is a fun one. It has plenty of that old school country texture to it. I dig the piano on the tune.
Eddy Arnold - Christmas Can't Be Far Away
I like the gentle flow of this cut. The guitar fills are tasty. This is a classy holiday number that feels more in line with the pop music of the time than pure country.
Kitty Wells - Christmas Ain't Like Christmas Anymore
More of a country crooner ballad, this is effective, but not a standout.
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Empty Chair At The Christmas Table
This definitely has a lot of that old-school hillbilly music at its heart. It's entertaining, but not my thing. It does have some jazz added to the mix, though.
Jim Reeves - Blue Christmas
A balladic arrangement that merges country music with vintage pop sounds is on hand here. This leans more toward the mainstream pop end of the spectrum, though.
Little Brenda Lee - I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus
A bouncy kind of country tune, this is fun and playful. Brenda Lee was 12 when she did  this song, if my research and math is right.
Billy Briggs - North Pole Boogie
This is a classic grind that has blues and jazz in the mix. This is one of my favorite tunes here. It works so well. It has aged better than some of the others here.  The instrumental break brings a bit more country music to the mix.
Red Foley - Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
This classic gets a fun telling here.
George Jones - New Baby for Christmas
This playful tune is an entertaining one. I love the piano work on the number, but everything here works pretty well.
Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) - The Night Before Christmas in Texas, That Is
Bouncy country western sounds are at the core of this cut.
Nelson Young - Home At Christmas
Hillbilly music is the driving point on this slow tune. This is definitely not my kind of thing.
Skeeter Davis - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
While the vocals bring a twang, this is more or less a vintage pop rendition of the holiday classic.
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Santa's On His Way
Cowboy music is on display here, but augmented by some hints of pop and jazz. In fact, I can make out some definite Dixieland jazz on this number.
The Prairie Ramblers - Cowboy Santa Claus
This is a rewriting of classic Christmas songs. It's a fun and country based number.
Terry Fell - We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo
Another bouncy little tune, this is a fun cut. There is some cool guitar picking on board.
Ray Salter & The Twin City Playboys - I Wish Every Day Was Christmas
I dig the fun swing of this country number. It seems to encompass country, rockabilly and jazz. I really love the killer bass groove on the track. This is another highlight, making it a great choice to close the set.
 
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