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For the Last Time
     

For the Last Time

3.0 1
by Bob Wills
 
After suffering a crippling stroke on May 31, 1973, Bob Wills recovered enough to participate in one last, truly remarkable recording session, with many of the surviving members of the Texas Playboys. The group assembled at the Sumet-Burnet Studio in Dallas, Texas, on December 3-4 to reprise some of the greatest moments in the King of Western Swing's career on the

Overview

After suffering a crippling stroke on May 31, 1973, Bob Wills recovered enough to participate in one last, truly remarkable recording session, with many of the surviving members of the Texas Playboys. The group assembled at the Sumet-Burnet Studio in Dallas, Texas, on December 3-4 to reprise some of the greatest moments in the King of Western Swing's career on the 40th anniversary of the band's founding. Special guest Merle Haggard, paying tribute to a personal hero, sang on three cuts and joined the fiddle ensemble on others. Wills himself, then wheelchair-bound, his voice affected by the stroke, was energized enough to deliver a homespun recitation of Cindy Walker's "What Makes Bob Holler." The reunion took an unfortunate turn after the first session ended: Wills suffered a severe stroke and lapsed into unconsciousness until his death 18 months later. The Playboys recorded as scheduled the next day, closing out the session with a rousing version of "That's What I Like About the South." Here the story of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys ends, four decades after it began, in the same town where they started the journey that wrought lasting changes in American music in general and country music in particular. This is one memorable coda.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
For the Last Time documents two historic moments in American music: The last time Bob Wills would ever attend or participate in a recording session -- he never made the final day of the session, having suffered a severe stroke the night before -- and the reunion of the great Texas Playboys, who began in the 1930s and recorded and toured together through the beginning of World War II. All living members were present, as well as Texas Playboy-for-a-day Merle Haggard, who drove all night from Chicago to make the session (he literally begged Wills to be a part of the sessions). These sessions took place on December 3 and 4, 1973, in Dallas, a short ride from Wills' home, with most of the '30s and '40s band in place, including Leon McAuliffe and Leon Rausch acting as vocalists for the lion's share of the material, with Wills singing on six tracks and Haggard guesting on three and playing fiddle as part of the string section. Haggard's singing on "Texas Playboy Theme" is particularly moving, and one can hear the pride in his voice as Wills gives his patented "ahhhhhh-haaaaaaawwwww!" to show his own pleasure with the proceedings. Wills was seated in the center of the band and actually directed it from his wheelchair. What is most remarkable is that on certain cuts -- such as "Blue Bonnet Lane," a track recorded for a movie in 1942 and not performed since -- the band nailed it on one take. Tommy Allsup's production is flawless in that it is so minimal it's almost as if the band were playing in the listener's living room. He captures the warmth, immediacy, and overwhelming emotion in the proceedings as they happen on such Texas Playboy classics as "San Antonio Rose," "Faded Love," "What Makes Bob Holler," "Big Ball's in Cowtown," "Bubbles in My Beer," "That's What I Like About the South," "Milk Cow Blues," "Twin Guitar Boogie," and "When You Leave Amarillo," just to name a few. Fiddle great Hoyle and son Jody Nix actually guest on a couple of tracks in the vocal seat, and Wills gives them his approving nod with his drawling yodel. In all, this is far from the lame tribute record we see so frequently these days; this is a deeply moving and inspiringly executed presentation of Bob Wills as not only a bandleader, but as an innovator and mentor. In other words, it is the only fitting tribute possible, with the man still very much alive sitting among his bandmates for the very last time.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/19/1994
Label:
Capitol
UPC:
0724382833123
catalogNumber:
28331
Rank:
11496

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For the Last Time 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
As I begin this review i confess to having little knowledge of western swing music.These sessions were recorded about the same time that Asleep At The Wheel began their career. According to the liner notes Wills suffered a massive stroke before the second day of recording and was not present for them. The tunes heard here, the notes state, were meant for dancing and not deep introspection. I don't know the originals and can't compare these versions to them. The notes say that many of Wills' pr-WWII hits were augmented by horn sections; this lineup of Playboys is more basic. It's hard to imagine many of these musicians had been playing together for 40 years. They really had their hearts in the music.