Marty Robbins (1925-1982) was a pioneer of the pop-oriented sound that came out of Nashville in the late 1950s... But unlike other country crooners such as Eddy Arnold, Sonny James or Hank Locklin, Robbins kept dipping his toes in various styles, even after he had struck gold with the pop vocals/country crossover. Robbins sang straight country, teen-oriented pop-rock, syrupy ballads and Latin- and Hawaiian-styled exotica, and just a tinge of country gospel. He is best remembered for his sleek updated style of "western" cowboy ballads, including smash hits such as "Big Iron" and "El Paso," which crossed over to top both the Pop and Country charts. Robbins was a smooth, versatile performer, and the spell he cast on his fans lingers to this day... Here's a quick look at his legacy...




CD Discography

Marty Robbins "The Essential Marty Robbins" (Sony Legacy, 1991)
Right now, this tasty 2-CD set is the best domestically available overview of Robbins' career available in the US... Even a grumpy old honkytonk fan like myself -- who has long lamented Robbins' early defection to the world of cornball pop -- can be won over after repeated listenings to this collection. It starts out with some fine early selections, from back when Robbins still sang country, and moves swiftly into his rock-tinged country-pop hits of the late 1950s and early '60s, as well as delicious epic ballads like "El Paso" and "Big Iron," which made Robbins the king of the latter-day singing cowboys. After a while, even the corniest pop numbers start to sound nice, even with the perky whitebread choruses, the goofy orchestrations and Marty's melodramatic lead vocals... This is a well-programmed retrospective that pulls you inexorably from groovy twang to gauzy schmaltz, and once you get on the right wavelength, you'll love every minute of it. An excellent introduction... Recommended!


Frankie Starr "Elevator Baby" (Bear Family, 1996)
Now, if you want to dig really deep into the Marty Robbins saga, you can start here. A regional star in Phoenix, Starr's hard-luck history is intimately intertwined with that of Marty Robbins, a singer he discovered and helped promote in late 1940s. Starr moved to Arizona after World War Two and was reasonably successful as a radio singer and bar band leader. He hired Robbins around 1948, then watched helplessly as his protege quickly eclipsed him and made the leap into Nashville superstardom... To hear Starr tell the story (which he does in the liner notes), Robbins pretty much bailed on Starr as soon as Music City beckoned, and did little to help his old boss out when Starr later to move to Tennessee. Marty Robbins fans will find this disc of interest since it also includes his earliest demo recordings, four tracks cut in 1948, in a session Starr said he helped set up and pay for... The sound quality on these tracks ain't great, but the historical value is immense. Really, though, what you want to hear on this album is Starr himself -- he might not have made it big in showbiz, but he left behind some fine hillbilly music for folks to listen to in decades to come.


Marty Robbins "Country: 1951-59" (Bear Family, 1994)
The story continues on this generously programmed 5-CD box set covering Robbins' early years... Includes all of his most "country" stuff, as well as his initial pop-flavored hits, including a slew of tunes that came out as singles in the half-decade before the first Marty Robbins LP came out. As with all Bear Family releases, this has great sound quality, as well as a lavish, well-researched booklet, packed with archival photographs and in-depth information about Robbins' conquest of Music City. Also, for honkytonk fans, this has his best, most country-sounding early work... And, boy, did he sounds great back then!


Marty Robbins "Country: 1960-1966" (Bear Family, 1995)
This 4-CD box set picks up where the last one left off... It may be for diehard fans only, but oh boy, if you are a diehard fan, your world will never be the same!


Marty Robbins "Under Western Skies" (Bear Family, 1995)
A 4-CD box set concentrating on his "western" themed hits....


Marty Robbins "A Musical Journey To The Carribbean And Mexico" (Bear Family, 1994)


Marty Robbins "Live Classics" (Audium/Country Music Foundation, 2001)
Highly recommended! One of the most appealling of the early country crooners, Marty Robbins had a knack for picking distinctive material, and weathered out the early onslaught of '50s rock'n'roll better than many of his Grand Ole Opry cohorts... This is a nice look at how hits such as "Singing The Blues" and "A White Sports Coat" went over live, as well as his various romantic ballads. His style is pretty low-key and laid-back, but consistently fun to listen to. He also had a great Hawaiian-style steel guitar player backing him up in the early '50s. Cool chance to hear a slick Nashville star in a relatively unadorned setting, and packed with surprises such as cover versions of material by the late Hank Williams and the upstart rocker, Elvis Presley. Nice sound quality, too! Definitely worth checking out.


Marty Robbins "A Lifetime Of Song: 1951-1982" (Columbia, 1983)
This 2-LP set made it intact into CD format, packed with many of Robbins's biggest hits. The 'Fifties material is the best, ranging from Hawaiianized oldies to co-opted rockabilly and teenpop ballads. In the '60s Robbins latched onto the "historical" song genre that made Claude King and Johnny Horton into Top 10 stars -- Robbins specialized in cowboy ballads such as "El Paso" and "Big Iron"; he reprised the formula with the 1976 western revival tune, "El Paso City," the lone gem in his later, rather dismal phase of Billy Sherrill-produced '70s countrypolitan. Except for the last few songs, this is a great collection.


Marty Robbins "More Greatest Hits" (Columbia, 1960)


Marty Robbins "All-Time Greatest Hits" (Columbia, 1972)


Marty Robbins "Biggest Hits" (Columbia, 1987)


Marty Robbins "Hawaii's Calling Me" (Bear Family, 1994)
A pop vocals schmaltzfest, with only a smidge of real, live exotic Hawaiiania to be heard... Mostly it's a showcase for Marty's lugubrious vocals. On a couple of tracks he departs from his stuffy baritone and drifts into a Hawaiian-style falsetto, but mostly it's pretty snoozy and pop. Famed steel guitarist Jerry Byrd, who contributed the liner notes, also wrote many of the songs Robbins croons away on, complimenting a brace of nostalgic island oldies. (Note: the original Calling Me LP had a dozen songs on it; this Bear family reissue CD more than doubles that, adding tracks from the Song Of The Islands album.)


Marty Robbins "Island Woman: A Musical Journey To The Caribbean And Mexico" (Bear Family, 1994)


Marty Robbins "Rockin', Rollin Robbins: Marty Robbins Sings" (Bear Family, 1995)
This 19-song CD expands on his original debut LP...


Marty Robbins "Rockin', Rollin Robbins, v.3: Ruby Ann" (Bear Family, 1995)


Marty Robbins "The Story Of My Life: The Marty Robbins/Ray Conniff Recordings" (Bear Family, 1994)
Pop sessions from 1957-58.


Marty Robbins "The Story Of My Life -- The Best Of Marty Robbins: 1952-1965" (Columbia Legacy, 1996)


Marty Robbins "Love Songs" (Sony Legacy, 2004)
This made-for-Valentine's Day lover's set concentrates on standards and classic love ballads made famous by others, pretty much to the exclusion of the many romantic themes originally recorded by Robbins himself. His fans may be thrilled nonetheless, but folks looking for more of a best-of set will be excused for a little head scratching: why did Robbins set himself up by covering "Unchained Melody" when it was clear he wasn't going to one-up Bill Medley? The opening track, a nice version of "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?", is the most country-sounding thing on here; from there on out it's the swanker, slower pop vocals approach that dominates this set. But for the right listner, this is probably a great set of love songs.


Marty Robbins "The Essential Marty Robbins" (Sony Legacy, 2005)
This is a mighty tasty 2-CD set that paints a fine portrait of one of Nashville's greatest smoothie crooners... Even a grumpy old honkytonk fan like myself -- who has long lamented Robbins' defection to the world of cornball pop -- can be won over after repeated listenings to this set. It starts out with some fine early selections, from back when Robbins still sang country, and moves swiftly into his rock-tinged country-pop hits of the late 1950s and early '60s, as well as delicious epic ballads like "El Paso" and "Big Iron," which made Robbins the king of the latter-day singing cowboys. After a while, even the corniest pop numbers start to sound nice, even with the perky whitebread choruses, the goofy orchestrations and Marty's melodramatic lead vocals... This is a well-programmed set which pulls you inexorably from groovy twang to gauzy schmaltz, and once you get on the right wavelength, you'll love every minute of it. An excellent introduction to this giant of a bygone era... Recommended!


Marty Robbins "Legends Of The Grand Ole Opry" (Time-Life, 2007)




Discography - Albums

Marty Robbins "Rockin', Rollin Robbins" (Columbia, 1956)


Marty Robbins "The Song Of Robbins" (Columbia, 1957)
A fine, solid hard-country set, with Robbins singing robust versions of tried-'n'-true oldies like Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "Moanin' The Blues," heartsong gems such as "I'll Step Aside," "You Only Want Me When You're Lonely" and "It's Too Late To Worry Anymore," as well as modern weepers like "Boquet Of Roses and "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You."


Marty Robbins "Song Of The Islands" (Columbia, 1957)


Marty Robbins "Marty Robbins" (Columbia, 1958)


Marty Robbins "Marty's Greatest Hits" (Columbia, 1959)


Marty Robbins "Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs" (Columbia, 1959)


Marty Robbins "More Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs" (Columbia, 1960)


Marty Robbins "More Greatest Hits" (Columbia, 1961)


Marty Robbins "Just A Little Sentimental" (Columbia, 1961)


Marty Robbins "Marty After Midnight" (Columbia, 1962)


Marty Robbins "Portrait Of Marty" (Columbia, 1962)


Marty Robbins "Devil Woman" (Columbia, 1962)


Marty Robbins "Hawaii's Calling Me" (Columbia, 1963)
A pop vocals schmaltzfest, with only a smidge of real, live exotic Hawaiiania to be heard... Mostly it's a showcase for Marty's lugubrious vocals. On a couple of tracks he departs from his stuffy baritone and drifts into a Hawaiian-style falsetto, but mostly it's pretty snoozy and pop. Famed steel guitarist Jerry Byrd, who contributed the liner notes, also wrote many of the songs Robbins croons away on, complimenting a brace of nostalgic island oldies. (Note: the original Calling Me LP had a dozen songs on it; this Bear family reissue CD more than doubles that, adding tracks from the 1957 Song Of The Islands album.)


Marty Robbins "Return Of The Gunfighter" (Columbia, 1963)


Marty Robbins "Island Woman" (Columbia, 1964)


Marty Robbins "R. F. D." (Columbia, 1964)


Marty Robbins "Turn The Lights Down Low" (Columbia, 1965)
EZ romantic corn, with some intermittently engaging arrangements. Elegant performances, but it's mostly bland countrypolitan schmaltz, aiming for a Tony Bennett-like panache.


Marty Robbins "Saddle Tramp" (Columbia, 1966)


Marty Robbins "What God Has Done" (Columbia, 1966)


Marty Robbins "The Drifter" (Columbia, 1966)
This set of western-themed ditties travels on some pretty familiar territory, hearkening back to Robbins' late-1950s sorta-song hits such as "El Paso" and "Big Iron..." Indeed, on this alum we even get the "origin" story of the temptress in "El Paso," heard here in the 1966 recording of "Feleena (From El Paso)." Mostly, these Spanish-guitar laced tunes seem like uninspired knockoffs, though a couple, like "Fastest Gun Around," have a surprising immediacy. (Note: this album originally came out in 1966, but some of the tracks date back as far as 1960)


Marty Robbins "My Kind Of Country" (Columbia, 1967)


Marty Robbins "Tonight, Carmen" (Columbia, 1967)


Marty Robbins "Christmas With Marty Robbins" (Columbia, 1967)
A smooth, croony Christmas carol, with some soft country touches and a bit of Spanish guitar... Nice mix of seasonal standards ("Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "O Little Town Of Bethlehem," etc.) and original material like "Christmas Is For Kids" and "One Of You In Every Size." There may be a little too much tinkling harpsicord action, but other than that, this is a pretty nice holiday offering. Marty Robbins fans will be overjoyed, and folks who just like to share the Santa spirit should like it, too. Worth checking out!


Marty Robbins "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" (Columbia, 1968)


Marty Robbins "I Walk Alone" (Columbia, 1968)


Marty Robbins "It's A Sin" (Columbia, 1969)


Marty Robbins "My Woman, My Wife" (Columbia, 1970)


Marty Robbins "Greatest Hits, v.3" (Columbia, 1971)
Includes several previously unissued songs, including "Jolie, Girl" and "It's A Sin, Padre," which both hit the Top Ten in '71.


Marty Robbins "Today" (Columbia, 1971)


Marty Robbins "Bound For Old Mexico" (Columbia, 1972)


Marty Robbins "I've Got A Woman's Love" (Columbia, 1972)


Marty Robbins "This Much A Man" (MCA, 1972)


Marty Robbins "Marty Robbins" (MCA, 1973)


Marty Robbins "Good 'N' Country" (MCA, 1974)


Marty Robbins "No Signs Of Lonliness Here" (Columbia, 1975)


Marty Robbins "El Paso City" (Columbia, 1976)


Marty Robbins "Adios Amigo" (Columbia, 1977)


Marty Robbins "Don't Let Me Touch You" (Columbia, 1977)


Marty Robbins "The Performer" (Columbia, 1978)


Marty Robbins "All-Around Cowboy" (Columbia, 1979)


Marty Robbins "With Love" (Columbia, 1980)


Marty Robbins "Everything I've Always Wanted" (Columbia, 1981)


Marty Robbins "The Legend" (Columbia, 1981)


Marty Robbins "Come Back To Me" (Columbia, 1982)


Marty Robbins "Some Memories Just Won't Die" (Columbia, 1983)


Marty Robbins "Long, Long Ago" (Columbia, 1984)




LP Best-Ofs

Marty Robbins "All-Time Greatest Hits" (Columbia, 1972)


Marty Robbins "The Story Of My Life" (Columbia, 1996)


Marty Robbins "Two-Gun Daddy" (MCA, 1975)
A best-of set, drawn from his early '70s work on the MCA label, with a couple of new tunes that were released as singles.


Marty Robbins "Twentieth Century Drifter" (MCA, 1983)
A posthumous best-of, collecting his early '70s work on the MCA label.


Marty Robbins "Biggest Hits" (Columbia, 1987)




Video & Other Media

Marty Robbins/Ernest Tubb "Country Music Classics" (DVD) (Shanachie, 2002)


Marty Robbins "Marty Robbins At Town Hall Party" (DVD) (Bear Family, 2003)


Marty Robbins "Marty Robbins Anthology" (DVD) (White Star, 2006)


Marty Robbins "Legendary Performances" (DVD) (Shout Factory, 2008)




Links






Hick Music Index



Copyright owned by Slipcue.Com.  All Rights Reserved.  
Unauthorized use, reproduction or translation is prohibited.