Tex Ritter (1905-1974) was one of the iconic "singing cowboys" of the 1940s and '50s, a moderately successful film and TV actor and a big country music star whose son, John Ritter, became a major TV star of the 1970s. Tex Ritter starred or co-starred in dozens of films, including 1942's "The Old Chisholm Trail," but it was his music career that made Ritter most famous, with major hits such as "You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often," "High Noon," and the ultimate recitation novelty song, "Deck Of Cards." Here's a quick look at his work... (and then I woke up!)
Tex Ritter "Country Music Hall Of Fame Series" (MCA, 1991)
Here are about half the songs he recorded for Decca in the 1930s, when he was a Hollywood box-office star. Several tracks are traditional cowboy songs, though the bulk of them were churned out by Tin Pan Alley tunesmiths, specifically for the movies. Ritter's style is poppy and stiff, but sometimes he hits the mark-- much moreso here than on his later Capitol recordings, which tend towards out-and-out corn.
Tex Ritter "Collectors Series" (Capitol, 1992)
A notoriously unaccomplished vocalist, Ritter nonetheless had phenomenal success as a country-themed hitmaker, particularly on these tracks recorded for Capitol in the '40s, '50s and '60s. Ritter had a melodic flatness that almost made Ernest Tubb seem like a Caruso; indeed, he copied Tubb's barebones style on more than one occasion. But with the synergy of his acting and singing careers -- and the fact that he signed with the West Coast's maverick Capitol label right at its inception -- brought Ritter into the American mainstream in a way that few of his country brethren could hope to achieve. This collection has all his big hits -- including "Jingle Jangle Jingle," "Blood On The Saddle," "Deck Of Cards," "High Noon" and "Hillbilly Heaven" -- and exhaustively shows the langour and flatness... and the inevitable charm... of Ritter's limited musicality. Also included is his last chart hit, from 1973(!), Gordon Sinclair's patriotic recitation, "The Americans (A Canadian's Opinion)," the text of which resurfaced as an Internet hoax posting in the wake of the September, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center. This disc may not be for everyone, but it's a pretty definititive look at Ritter's most famous material.
Tex Ritter "Vintage Collection" (Capitol, 1996)
This set is fairly comparable, with ten fewer tracks, and a few included that were not on the 25-song Collector's Series set... It doesn't have "Deck Of Cards," though, so it's far from a definitive best-of.
Tex Ritter "High Noon" (Bear Family, 1992)
This collection is a single-disc best-of that rivals (some say surpasses) the Capitol collections listed above. With Bear Family's trademark sound quality and archival splendor...
Tex Ritter "Blood On The Saddle" (Box set) (Bear Family, 1999)
Tex Ritter "High Noon" (Bear Family, 2000)
Tex Ritter "Have I Stayed Away Too Long" (Box set) (Bear Family, 2003)
Then, for the Tex Ritter true believer, there're these massive, multi-disc box sets on the venerable Bear Family label... The High Noon collection is a 4-CD set with the same title but (obviously) a lot more material than Bear Family's previous album released a decade earlier. Probably more than enough Ritterology to satisfy even the most curious fan...!!
Tex Ritter "High Noon: 1942-1952" (ASV Living Era, 2000)
Tex Ritter "Sing, Cowboy, Sing: A Proper Introduction To Tex Ritter" (Proper, 2004)
Tex Ritter "America's Most Beloved Cowboy" (BACM, 2005)
Tex Ritter "Pledge Of Allegiance" (BACM, 2005)
Tex Ritter "Froggy Went A-CourtinŐ & Other Children's Songs" (BACM, 2005)
Tex Ritter "Songs From The Western Screen" (Capitol, 1958) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Psalms" (Capitol, 1958) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Blood On The Saddle" (Capitol, 1960) (LP)
Tex Ritter "The Lincoln Hymns" (Capitol, 1961) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Hillbilly Heaven" (Capitol, 1961) (LP)
Tex Ritter "With Stan Kenton" (Capitol, 1962) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Border Affair" (Capitol, 1963) (LP)
Tex Ritter "The Friendly Voice Of Tex Ritter" (Capitol, 1965) (LP)
Tex Ritter "The Best Of Tex Ritter" (Capitol, 1966) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Sweet Land Of Liberty" (Capitol, 1967) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Just Beyond The Moon" (Capitol, 1967) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Bump Tiddil Dee Bum Bum!" (Capitol, 1968) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Tex Ritter's Wild West" (Capitol, 1968) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Chuck Wagon Days" (Capitol, 1969) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Green Green Valley" (Capitol, 1970) (LP)
Tex Ritter "The Supercountrylegendary Tex Ritter" (Capitol, 1972) (LP)
Tex Ritter "An American Legend" (Capitol, 1973) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Fall Away" (Capitol, 1974) (LP)
Tex Ritter "Comin' After Jinny" (Capitol, 1976) (LP)
Hick Music Index