Don Walser: Here's to Country Music
Here's to Country Music (Watermelon/Sire)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Oct. 1, 1999
Here's to Country Music (Watermelon/Sire)Since his label debut for Watermelon Records in 1994, Rolling Stone From Texas, country crooner Don Walser has released albums at the pace befitting a one-of-kind performer who started recording late in life: about one a year. Austin's divine yodeler knows he won't be around to sing old, forgotten cowboy songs forever, those thousands of songs by the likes of Hank Thompson, Cindy Walker and Bob Wills, Marty Robbins, Felice Bryant, and Floyd Tillman, for instance -- songwriters credited on Here's to Country Music -- but doggone it, he's trying, he's trying. As usual, Walser and the nice label folk who think they have a clue on how to harness the singer's unique vocal gifts, have chosen a fine bunch of songs and enlisted a fine bunch of musicians to play them, including Buddy Emmons on steel and the great Teddy Wilburn on vocals. And as usual, the results are timeless. Thompson's "Here's to Country Music" serves as Walser's rallying cry in the opening slot, the pre-requisite shot at Nashville right off the bat, and from there it's one gem after another, "Arkansas," "Tennessee Saturday Night," and "Oakie Boogie" settin' a Southern tone driven home by Jimmie Rodgers' "Polka Dot Blues," and the absolutely sublime closer, "Paper Rosie." Better than last year's equally fine Down at the Sky-Vue Drive-In? Who can tell? Rolling Stone From Texas, Texas Top Hand -- they're interchangeable. And irreplaceable. Here's to Country Music.