Tiffany Transcriptions, Vol. 1

by: Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

The first of ten volumes (produced for CD by Jeff Alexson and Tom Diamant) of radio transcriptions done by Bob Wills and his band in the mid-'40s is the strongest of the bunch. Done for the Tiffany Music Company -- a concern formed by Wills, songwriter Clifford Sundin, and radio personality Clifton Johnson (Cactus Jack) -- between 1946 and 1947, these recordings were intended as the basis for a syndicated radio series, but soon after the initial distribution of some of the recordings, the company was dissolved and the music withdrawn. Sundin had possession of the recordings, along with the relevant business files and promotional materials, until his death in 1981, after which the release of the music became possible through Kaleidoscope Records (which also handles records by Kate Wolf, Tiny Moore and Jethro Burns, the Bobs, the Sundogs, and the Zazu Pitts Memorial Orchestra), distributed by Rhino. The music features Wills and his band performing in a freer atmosphere than the typical recording session, not trying for a perfect take as much as a lively flow to each of the songs that would make the radio listener continue to tune in each week. The music is closer to a live performance than anything else Wills and his band ever recorded, with the members very informal and obviously enjoying themselves. Tiffany Transcriptions, Vol. 1 gives a good idea of the entire ten-disc set, a mix of country, dance, jazz, folk, and blues standards (including a version here of "What's the Matter With the Mill," a song equally well known in versions by Moon Mullican and Muddy Waters), with vocalist Tommy Duncan at the top of his form. The sound is astonishingly good as well, given the age of the masters and the fact that they were never intended to be preserved for posterity. ~ Bruce Eder

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