This intriguing collection of radio transcriptions and movie soundtrack pieces isn't exactly a Merle Travis
set, although he plays guitar -- mostly electric -- on every track. Recorded between 1944 and 1956, these cuts generally feature other vocalists (Jimmie Dean
, for instance, sings the title track), with Travis
working as part of a backup ensemble, taking center stage on maybe a half-dozen selections, including the brilliant guitar instrumentals ("Down South Blues" and "Cannon Ball Rag") that open and close the album. There are a couple of Travis
vocals, too, including his fine take on "Nobody" and a swinging, chugging version of "John Henry." There is a good deal of in-studio patter, scripted radio introductions, and cornball humor on display, as well. More than anything, Boogie Woogie Cowboy
spotlights the golden era of Western swing on radio during a time when television had yet to steal the whole audience.