Marty Robbins “The Song Of Robbins” Classic Album Review
Greetings from Asheville, where there’s always good music on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Today’s Classic Album Review goes way back to the 1950’s, 1957 to be exact. The Song Of Robbins was the second Marty Robbins album to be released, the first on 12″. Released in April, by Columbia Records, the album did not chart, nor were any of the track released as singles, which, in the early days of albums was not at all unusual. This is pre-western, pre-Hawaiian, pre-pop, pre-racing Marty; pure country Marty Robbins.
The album kicks off with Marty’s take on the Hank Williams classic “Lovesick Blues”. This is one of those songs where I always say that it shouldn’t be recorded, again, because no one, outside maybe Charley Pride, has ever been able to do the song justice. That said, upon hearing Marty’s version, I’ll add him to the list, even maybe slightly above Charley, as Marty comes as close as anyone not named Hank Sr. in nailing this one.
Marty’s nickname, early in his career, was Mr. Teardrop. Recordings like his version of another Hank classic, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, are a prime reason. In addition to Marty’s stellar performance, I really like the arrangement, here; a blues/pop-style piano, mixed with steel guitar, and an acoustic guitar being played in a style and sound very similar to how Hank Snow played.
“It’s Too Late To Worry Any More” is a pretty decent track, straight-ahead country music, featuring a stellar performance by Marty Robbins, on a song that isn’t as strong as the first two, but benefits from having Mr. Robbins doing the singing.
While the arrangement is straight country, the feel of “Rose Of Ol’ Pawnee” has a western feel to it, a snippet of things to come.
Again, a preview of future sounds, as Marty’s vocals on “I Never Let You Cross My Mind” have a smoother, pop edge, despite the hard country sound. A mid tempo track, by now, if one is new to the music of Marty, this album, if nothing else, has already shown his incredible vocal talents.
Side one’s final track shows just a tad more twang in the vocal, though not a large amount. “I Hang My Head And Cry” possesses a great melody that you can’t help but like. You’ll also notice the steel guitar playing that sounds very similar to early 1950’s Eddy Arnold records. That may well be due to the fact that Eddy was one of Marty Robbins’ influence.
Side two opens with Marty’s take on the Gene Autry hit “You Only Want Me When You’re Lonely”. Something not always mentioned about Marty’s vocals, but I think should be, is the soulfulness that often comes out. I think Marty could have been a good R & B singer, had he wanted to. This track is a prime example.
Side two is heavy on covers, including a third Hank Williams track, “Moanin’ The Blues”. Here, Marty gives more of a rockabilly performance, giving that feel entirely with his voice; the music is straight country.
The Ernest Tubb hit “I’ll Step Aside” is next up. Performed at a quicker pace than the original, Marty returns to a traditional country vocal style, here, and gives a stellar performance.
“All The World Is Lonely Now” is a very strong composition, with a fine medium-up pace. It feels like Marty’s wanting to cut loose, but is holding back, here, trying to stay pure country.
As I mentioned, earlier, Eddy Arnold was one of Marty’s influences, and here, you get a taste of Eddy with Marty’s cover of “Bouquet Of Roses”. Ironically, it’s only track that I have any level of apathy about. Not a bad take, yet it comes off with a neutral feel, to me.
The Lulu Belle And Scotty classic, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”, wraps this album, doing so in exceptional style. Though keyed a bit higher than I’d prefer, it still is a recording that one finds hard to come up with any faults about.
You might be surprised to know that this album is still available on CD. That would likely be the easiest way to grab a copy, as I didn’t find too many used copies and those I did were pricey, mainly over $40.
My Standout Track goes to his version of “Moanin’ The Blues”. I’ll give “I Never Let You Cross My Mind” my Hidden Gem nod, and as far as the Weakest Track goes, I guess I’d pick “Bouquet Of Roses”, only because of the twelve tracks, it’s the one I had the least reaction to.
Overall, this album is a vintage piece of classic country music. Even though Marty had already been around a few years, this album feels like a preview, in a way. It’s almost like he’s saying, “Here’s what to expect in the coming years, from me”. Some straight country, some pop, some rock ‘n roll, and of course, western. And as we’d soon find out, he could sing them all with ease and style. I rate this one a 4.5 out of 5.