Greetings from Asheville, where there’s always good music on the turntable. This Classic Album Review looks at the 1965 release Indian Love Call from singer/yodeler Kenny Roberts. Kenny was one of Country Music’s great yodelers; one of the last successful singers to feature yodeling. Though his hit list was short, he built up a loyal following, especially in the Midwest. There he appeared over radio stations WLW and WOWO, as well as on television in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.
Kenny Roberts only charted four singles in his career. The biggest was his 1949 Country-Pop hit “I Never See Maggie Alone”. That record would peak at four on the Country charts. He would have one more top ten single, in 1950, with “Choc’late Ice Cream Cone”.
Indian Love Call was a Starday release. The album didn’t chart and didn’t feature any hit singles, but it does include a remake of “I Never See Maggie Alone”.
That remake stays true to the original. There is a bit more in the arrangement, over the original Coral Records release. The million-selling novelty tune is definite ear-worm music.
Some would argue that yodeling is an acquired taste. Understandable, yet it’s hard not to like, when performed by the likes of Roberts, Elton Britt, or Roy Rogers. “Tavern Town”, the opening track, includes some yodeling. Kenny was a good singer, as this track shows. Not anything fancy, but it’s a good song with a catchy mid-tempo beat.
“Indian Love Call” was first made famous by Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald. The best remembered version is that of Slim Whitman. A song that if you want to yodel, at some point you must master this one, which Kenny does. His version has a bit quicker tempo than what is normally heard. I like the arrangement and quicker pace; it’s a nice change from how we usually hear the song.
“Guitar Ringing” is a bouncy track that ranks as one of the album’s best. It was one of two singles released from the album, unfortunately, it made no impact on country radio.
“Maybe I’ll Cry Over You” is an alright track. It’s not as strong as the preceding tracks. Mid-tempo, the song. What hurts the recording as much as anything is the reverb on Kenny’s vocals. It would have worked as well without it.
The album’s other single release, “Chime Bells”, was a 1948 top ten for Elton Britt. Elton’s version is fun to listen to, especially where he holds the high note for seemingly forever. Kenny Roberts doesn’t hold the note as long but gives it a good effort. His version is fun, as well, very comparable to the Elton Britt recording.
“Tying the Leaves” is a ballad that was also once recorded by Elton Britt. A depressing/corny/happy-ending song, of a little boy who is told that his playmate will be dying by the time the fall leaves fall from the trees. So, the little boy climbs the tree and ties the leaves to the tree. And the surprising ending the little girl miraculously heals. Somehow, the ending yodel seems out of place.
“Just Look, Don’t Touch” is a lite, airy, bouncy track that isn’t particularly deep, but a fun song.
Some of Kenny’s best vocal work on the disc comes on “Fly Away Mocking Bird”. This is a track that will grow on you, a catchy melody with good old-fashioned style Country lyrics.
“Please Don’t Turn Around” is similar, in that it’s a song that could grow on you. This track is a fine piece of Country music. Ah, Country Music the way it should be. A mid-tempo piece that is very contemporary sounding for its time.
“If I’m Blue” has a bit of a 1950’s Rock ‘N Roll feel to it, with the reverb on Kenny Roberts’ vocals, along with the arrangement that borrows from those days. The melody, as well, has that feel of an early Rock ‘N Roll song. Unlike “Maybe I’ll Cry Over You”, the reverb adds to the track, here. It’s a toe-tapper.
The album’s final track is also a remake of one of his 1950’s singles. Kenny first recorded “She Taught Me How to Yodel” in 1953, and here, gives us the updated version. Swinging and a more than a bit of novelty to it. Mostly yodeling, he shows his yodeling skills on this track, doing some yodels I don’t recall having heard, before. Good track to end the album with.
Besides its initial release on vinyl, it’s also seen life a couple of times on CD. On my original post about this album on our old site, I mentioned that our friend and longtime reader, Paul Dennis noted that the original vinyl copy has a superior sound over the later digital releases.
Overall, this is a fun album to give an occasional listen. While Kenny Roberts was notable for his yodeling skills, he was also a fine vocalist, as this collection shows. This album is a very good introduction to one of the country music’s nearly-forgotten artists.
About Your Author
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, and focuses on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.