Rosalie Allen (1924-2003) was an East Coast country star who hosted a popular radio program in New York City while cutting hit records both as a solo artist and in a string of duets with fellow yodeller, Elton Britt. Allen was one of the most prominent female country stars of the 1940s, and while she sang with various male artists, she stood out as her own, independent performer. Here's a quick look at her work...
Rosalie Allen "The Queen Of The Yodelers" (Cattle, 1983) (LP)
Rosalie Allen "The Hillbilly Yodel Star Of The 1940s" (Cattle Compact/Binge Disc Records)
A great reissue record that fills in a major blank in the history of women in country music. Allen was a powerful, appealing singer whose material split between novelty numbers ("Take It Back And Change It For A Boy" being a highlight...) and sentimental weepers. She's a bit like a softer version of Rose Maddox - rural but heartfelt, and a compelling performer. She hung out with Elton Britt and Zeke Manners (which may explain the upbeat nature of many of these tunes...) and while she was billed as a yodeller, this collection only has a couple of yodelling tunes. Apparently, Allen gave up recording around 1955, but this disc collects a fabulous sweep of material made from 1944-1949. Although her unvaried vocal style gets a little monotonous if you listen to the disc repeatedly, she's great in small doses, and highly recommended.
Rosalie Allen "Jealous Heart" (BACM, 2005)
A great set of classic country and yodeling/western material, drawing on two main sources. The first half of the disc is a reissue of a 1955 LP recorded with a fella named Shorty Warren, whose band, The Western Rangers, was largely a bit sluggish, but also featured amplified guitar work that show debts to Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. Allen rolls through a set of old country standards -- "Jealous Heart," "Tennessee Waltz," "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You," etc. -- and on the uptempo numbers shows the confidence and power to front a band with a big sound. Some of the arrangements get a bit trite, but others are quite robust... and of course Allen cuts loose with some fine yodeling, notably on a new version of "He Taught Me How To Yodel." The second half of the set gathers together about a dozen singles that Allen recorded for RCA between 1945-53, and also balances elements of pop vocals and straightahead country stuff, and even a stab at punchy big-band R&B, on "I Gotta Have You." One thing that came through on this set that I hadn't heard before: Allen's vocal similarities to '60s siren Skeeter Davis. Hmmmmm. Very interesting. Anyway, this is a cool collection -- for anyone looking into the history of women in country music, this is a clear must-have. (Available through the British Archive of Country Music website.)
Rosalie Allen "The Queen Of The Yodellers" (Flare, 2009)
Rosalie Allen "The Versatile Rosalie Allen" (Jasmine, 2010)
Drawn from a variety of sources, this 2-CD set is a fine collection of her work -- novelty songs, weepers, yodeling and polkas, all with the bouncy flair of the West Coast country scene.
Rosalie Allen & Elton Britt "Side By Side: The Duets" (Jasmine, 2010)
A whole album's worth of duets by these cowboy/girl western stars? Who knew? Allen worked with a wide variety of artists over her long career, but these two enjoyed a particularly long run together. Some of it's great, but unfortunately, a lot of it is really, really schmaltzy - spare arrangements built around a roller-rink organ, lingering, gooey melodies, etc. There are some fun songs, though, including one or two that have some actual twang to them, though mostly these are sentimental songs with a few attempts at novelty numbers... Oh! And a bunch of yodeling and polkas! Can't forget that. Anyway, I was surprised at how disappointing much of this was... This is a great archival set, but the disc itself was a bit of a chore to get through, although there are about dozen songs -- less than half the album -- that I'd say are worth listening to again. Worth checking out if you like either of these artists, but it might not really ring your bells.
Rosalie Allen "Rosalie Allen Sings Country And Western Hits" (Waldorf Music, 1957)
Rosalie Allen "Songs Of The Golden West" (Grand Award, 1957)
Rosalie Allen "Rodeo" (Grand Award, 1959)
Rosalie Allen "Starring Elton Britt And Rosalie Allen" (Grand Award, 1966)
Hick Music Index