This German label is the ultimate last stand for hardcore fans of old country music, those of us who want to find more stuff that no one else has heard of, but still want quality material. Dagmar Binge has been running the label singlehandedly since the early 1980s, issuing hundreds of remarkable records, many of which are jaw-droppingly awesome.

You may have seen some of them over the years: the Binge Disc aesthetic is -- shall we say -- a bit spartan... The Cattle and Cowgirlboy LPs of the 1980s all came in the same format: with album info xeroxed onto sheets of paper that were then simply pasted onto plain white cardboard sleeves. Similarly, her new "Bronco Buster" CD series features booklets and inserts printed on cheap, colored construction paper. It takes a bold soul to venture forth and shell out import prices for such rickety-looking products, but believe me, it's totally worth it. The source material for these discs comes mainly from Binge's gigantic collection of old 78s, radio transcription discs and rare albums, and includes fabulous music which the major labels are unable to or uninterested in reissuing. (Hint: get it while you can!)

Here's the hitch: Binge Records is a pretty informal business, and doesn't have significant retail distribution in the U.S. The only place I've ever seen these records in stock is Down Home Music in El Cerrito, CA and you may be able to order some releases through them. Your other option is to order directly from Dagmar Binge, which can be fun. One advantage is that you'll get a copy of her latest catalog update, which includes informative notes about the various records (her recommendations are very reliable, as well as entertaining). Frau Binge's e-mail, address and fax number are listed below, as are links to U.S. importers who carry her records.

Here is a list of the CDs currently out on the Buster Bronco imprint, with comments about ones that I've heard. I didn't include reviews of LPs on any of her imprint labels, since there are literally hundreds of them, and many are no longer in print. However, almost EVERYTHING on Cowgirlboy is incredible: the sound quality is fabulous and on a par with major label releases, and the material itself is stunning. LPs on Binge Records and Lucky Lady are a bit dicier: often they are recordings of obscure amateurs from the mid-1960s and later, and I've found most of these albums to be disappointing. The Cattle series also has some mediocre titles, although a few records are phenomenal.

[Bronco Buster CD 9001]
Hank Thompson "World Masters: 1951-1953"

Super sweet material taken from old 16-inch radio transcription discs... mainly sentimental heart songs, but also some more upbeat numbers. HIGHLY recommended -- this is some of the plainest, most heartfelt music of Thompson's long and lovely career. (PS-- if you like this CD, there are a couple more just like it out on Interstate Music's Country Routes label, also highly recommended).

[Bronco Buster CD 9002]
Bill Boyd "The Master Of Cowboy Swing"

A cult favorite of western swing fans, Bill Boyd and his Cowboy Ramblers were certainly one of the best outfits of their time. These mid-1940s recordings are not necessarily his best; there are a bunch of indifferent instrumentals, and the sound quality is iffy in parts. Still, it's definitely worth checking out, especially since RCA isn't likely to reissue that killer 2-LP retrospective that came out on Bluebird in the mid-70s.

[Bronco Buster CD 9003]
Cecil Campbell "...And His Tennessee Ramblers"

Great fun -- a western swing and cowboy western-flavored outfit from the late '40s and early '50s with a knack for upbeat, humorous songs. Includes a baby bottle boogie that stands with the best of 'em, as well as the awesome anti-anorexia anthem, "Put Some Meat On Them Bones". Fun old Victor 78s, with a chug-chug-chuggin' accordion that just won't quit. Recommended!

[Bronco Buster CD 9004]
Roy Hogsed "Snake Dance Boogie"

Simply stunning. The first tracks on here are incredible proto-rock hillbilly boogie material from 1951, that leaves the Delmore Brothers and all of them fellers on the King label in the dust -- really raw stuff, with electric guitar solos that oughta raise a few eyebrows. Later tracks, from around 1954, are more solidly honkytonk, but all of these old Capitol discs were quite good. Also features a couple of great Korean War-era patriotic songs, "Don't Bite The Hand That's Feeding You" b/w "The Red We Want Is The Red We've Got (In The Old Red White And Blue." Awesome CD -- HIGHLY recommended!

[Bronco Buster CD 9005]

[Bronco Buster CD 9006]
Eddy Arnold "Strictly From The Heart"

Unfortunately -- and justifiably -- Eddy Arnold is best known as an archetypal Nashville pop-vocals cheeseball, whose most distinctive hits were "Make The World Do Away" and a remake of the early '40s classic, "Cattle Call"... What most folks don't know is that early on, when he was still a young whippersnapper, Eddy Arnold was actually a damn good country singer. Soft around the edges and smoother than most other hicks, but good. These 1950 transcription tapes were made for Brown Records, around the time he went by the handle, "The Tennessee Plowboy", and they're certainly worth checking out. It may give you a whole new opinion of the man.

[Bronco Buster CD 9007]
Texas Jim Robertson "Wedding Bells: 1941-1954"

An outstanding set of country novelty songs and heartfelt weepers. Robertson's first real hit was an early version of Floyd Tillman's "Slippin' Around," and plenty of other tracks on here follow in that mournful path... But there are also some of the best goofball material you're likely to hear - including the loveably sexist "Automatic Woman" (mechanized, non-backtalky wimmin being a big preoccupation with songwriters in the 1950s Atom Age...) and "Last Page Of Mein Kampf," which is one of the best anti-Hitler songs ever recorded. Robertson was a very appealling singer, and the material included on this album is all first-rate. Highly recommended!

[Bronco Buster CD 9008]
Tommy Sosebee "The Voice Of The Hills"

Straight out of Tennessee Ernie Ford/Red Foley tradition of bluesy, jovial hillbilly vocals, complete with novelty songs and soulful gospel numbers. An alumnus of Peewee King's band, Sosebee went solo in the late '40s and landed a contract with Coral in 1949, and the bulk of these recordings come from singles on that label. The liner notes speculate that crackerjack session players such as Jerry Byrd, Grady Martin and Bud Isaacs may have backed Sosebee up. Whoever it was, they did good. Fun, old-fashioned country with solid performances all around.

[Bronco Buster CD 9009]
Gene Autry "Private Buckaroo"

[Bronco Buster CD 9010]
Leon McAuliffe "World Masters: 1953"

[Bronco Buster CD 9011]
Clyde Moody "The Immortal"

AWESOME. Late '40s/early '50s singles by a former member of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys gone honkytonk. Moody's songs were covered by Hank Williams, among others, but his solo career never really took off. What a shame -- these old singles from the Decca, King and Bullet labels are really stellar. Bluesy, soulful, believable classic country that fans of Floyd Tillman, Ernest Tubb, Wynn Stewart, etc. should go ga-ga over. Highly recommended -- one of the best CDs in this series.

[Bronco Buster CD 9012]
T. Texas Tyler "The Man With A Million Friends"

Fabulous post-WWII California country -- not quite as amped up as hillbilly boogie, though also not as static as some of the pre-war honkytonk. Tyler is often remembered as a "one-hit wonder," since most folks only know his classic, "Deck of Cards" from 1948. The tracks on this collection all predate that chestnut, and reveal Tyler as a compelling, expressive performer. Includes some mildly raunchy numbers, and some gospel and sentimental numbers, too --- a highlight is his version of "Rough and Rocky," a song recorded decades later by Emmylou Harris. Yet another awesome Binge Disc release bringing to light the work of another artist left by the wayside of country music history.

[Bronco Buster CD 9013]
Eddy Arnold "Hillbilly Favorites"

You wouldn't think it from listening to his final 83 albums but at one time Eddy Arnold was a great country singer, with steel guitars, fiddles and everything. These songs, taken from rare 16" transcription discs on the Brown record label, showcase Arnold at his all-too-brief best, during the late 1940s and early '50s, when he still went by the nickname, "the Tennessee Plowboy". Ironically this disc contains a stripped-down version of his hit song, "Cattle Call," which was one of the successful smashes that lured him into going countrypolitan later in the 'Fifties Loaded with lovely, pointedly sentimental material, this CD uncovers Arnold's deep roots in the older stringband tradition. It's a shame RCA can't see fit to do a similar reissue of the many mid-to-late '40s singles Arnold did in the same vein. I'd snap it up in a second.

[Bronco Buster CD 9014]
Red Foley "Hillbilly Fever In The Ozarks"

So, here's the big secret: despite the acres of tepid pop-gospel albums he recorded in the 'Fifties and 'Sixties, Foley was actually a GREAT country singer way back when he was starting out. When struggling to remember when Foley was fun, most folks can only conjure the politically dodgy (but super-catchy) "Tennessee Saturday Night", which is indeed a great song, but only the tip of tale... This CD collects some great radio transcription performances , recorded with a crack band featuring guitarists Grady Martin and Jimmy Selph, along with Bud Isaacs on steel amd Tommy Jackson playing fiddle. 1954-55 is a little late in the game for Foley, but this CD sticks strictly to the hillbilly rhythm style, and leaves the slushy pop stuff where it belongs. Highly recommended! Also check out the Hillbilly & Western Rhythm disc below, which features a bunch of rare, early studio recordings on the Decca label.

[Bronco Buster CD 9015]
Joe and Rose Lee Maphis "Hot Time In Nashville"

Run -- don't walk -- to find this one! An incredible treasure trove of old-fashioned country music. This husband-and-wife duo had it all: the heartfelt sentimentality of the Louvin Brothers, the cheerful rambunctiousness of Rose Maddox and the powerful instrumental clout of hotshot Hollywood picker Joe Maphis. Both Rose Lee and Joe are fabulous heartsong stylist, and as a duet they completely rule. A couple of tracks feature Joe's rock'n'rollish instrumentals. Why music of such a high calibre has been ignored for so long is baffling, especially considering the dearth of recordings available by female country singers of Rose's stature. But Binge Discs, drawing on singles from Columbia, Starday and Opry airchecks, has done justice to these underrated stars of the 1950s.

[Bronco Buster CD 9016]
Texas Ruby And Curly Fox "A Memorial Tribute"

Rare mid-1940s recordings from one of the Grand Ole Opry's mainstay duos. Uptempo lost-love songs galore, along with hot fiddle breakdowns by Curly Fox (who started his career in the Skillet Lickers string band, and kept the old- timey flavor alive.) Ruby's intensely masculine voice is a bit unnerving -- she sounds like a nineteen year old boy auditioning for the band -- but the material is priceless. The musicianship is particularly high on these recording, mostly from old Columbia sessions, as well as a few Opry airchecks. You can't find this stuff anywhere else, so track this one down.

[Bronco Buster CD 9017]
Yodeling Gene Autry "The Life Of Jimmie Rodgers"

[Bronco Buster CD 9018]
Buchanan Brothers "Atomic Power"

Whereas other brother acts like the Louvins, Monroes and Delmores tended to be Gloomy Gusses, singing endlessly about lost loves and Mama up in heaven, these two were whooping it up and having a whale of a time. Like the Louvin Brothers, the Buchanans came to the "brother act" scene a bittle bit late (the real heyday had been in the 1930s, these tracks come from the late '40s...) but that didn't diminish their pep in the slightest. Great novelty songs with an archaic, string band sound -- songs about flying saucers, atomic bombs and undesirable girlfriends, all from a delightfully "hillbilly" perspective.

[Bronco Buster CD 9019]
Light Crust Doughboys "Western Swing Memories"

A nice collection of golden oldies collected by this fab German reissue label. A lot of these recordings simply aren't available elsewhere, and haven't been inprint for decades... So this may be your only chance to hear this music for some time to come!

[Bronco Buster CD 9020]
Smokey Rogers "Western Swing Masterpieces" (Bronco Buster)

Jaunty, jovial West Coast-style western swing with slightly subpar vocals and plenty of zinga-de-ding-ding accordion. An alumnus of Spade Cooley's outfit, Rogers was a longtime pal of Tex Williams and Deuce Spriggens, and followed Williams from label to label throughout the 1940s and '50s. This disc covers 1945-57, packed with rare numbers for Four Star, Coral, Capitol and a couple of smaller independent labels... It's fun stuff, with plenty of novelty appeal. Rogers main flaw was his voice, which wasn't great, but he more than compensated with the sheer force of his buoyant personality. Plus, he had Tex Williams' band backing him up on most sessions, so that gives him a leg up right there. Definitely worth checking out!

[Bronco Buster CD 9021]
Ernie Lee "The Kentucky Balladeer"

Solidly in the Tennessee Ernie Ford/Red Foley tradition of bouncy, jovial bullfrog vocals, Ernie Lee's early-'50s records hold up as well as any of the hillbilly hits by them two stars. Fun stuff skimmed out of the Mercury and MGM catalogs -- well worth checking out!

[Bronco Buster CD 9022]
Moon Mullican "I Left My Heart In Texas"

[Bronco Buster CD 9023]
Rhubarb Red "Les Paul's Country Roots"

Early "hillbilly" material from guitar whiz Les Paul, working under the monicker of Rhubarb Red. Gawww-leee! (Cheap sarcasm aside, this is pretty groovy material... and certainly with great historical value!)

[Bronco Buster CD 9024]
Wiley & Gene "Country Songs Straight From The Heart"

A pleasant mix of western swing, cowboy harmonies and honkytonk heartsongs from this popular WWII-era songwriting team -- half Tex Ritter, half Bob Wills. Straightforward, sentimental material with occasional bursts of hot pickin' and fiddlin'. These old Columbia 78s rarely see the light of day anymore, so this 20-song collection is well worth tracking down.

[Bronco Buster CD 9025]
Johnny Barfield "Soulful Country Ballads"

[Bronco Buster CD 9026]
Louise Massey And Her Westerners "Swing West"

Corny cowboy tunes, polkas, and a smattering of western swing from this Depression-era family outfit. This disc has a strong Tin Pan Alley pop feel to it -- western music similar to Bing Crosby's version of "Don't Fence Me In", etc. Louise Massey is certainly one of the forgotten female country music pioneers, though if the truth be told, her vocals are a bit schmaltzy -- her brother Curt is more of a good time than she is. Each sibling solos on a handful of tunes, and there are several instrumental tunes on here as well.

[Bronco Buster CD 9027]
The McCormick Brothers "Hot Bluegrass Rhythm"

[Bronco Buster CD 9028]
Buddy Reynolds "A Canadian Country Music Pioneer"

Wonderful, rare Canadian recordings from the 1940s and '50s. Reynolds was very much a devotee of Hank Snow, and follows in the path the "Singing Ranger" laid before splitting for Nashville -- corny, sentimental ballads, cowboy tunes and novelty songs, complete with nasal vocals and Hawaiian slide guitar. Highly recommended -- this is the sort of stuff you can develop a real soft spot for.

[Bronco Buster CD 9029]
Spade Cooley & Tex Williams "Western Swing Jamboree"

[Bronco Buster CD 9030]
Al Dexter "The Original Pistol Packin' Mama"

[Bronco Buster CD 9031]
Jimmie Skinner "From The Beginning To Fame"

A devotee of Jimmie Rodgers and, by extension, Ernest Tubb, Skinner is best remembered for his late-'50s hits on Mercury. These earlier recordings -- mostly late '40s radio discs and a few rare Capitol singles from 1951-52 -- feature raw, bluesy honkytonk with some of the most bitter lost-love lyrics in the country canon. Skinner's bands usually featuring a clunky lead mandolin, and often play out of tune, but that seldom gets in the way of the awesome material.

[Bronco Buster CD 9032]
Jimmy Wakely "Great Hillbilly & Western/Swing Rarities"

[Bronco Buster CD 9033]
Tex Williams "Artistry In Western Swing"

[Bronco Buster CD 9034]
Red Foley "Hillbilly & Western Rhythm"

More great stuff from Red Foley's late-'40s heyday. This CD reissues twenty tracks from Red's prime postwar recordings on the Decca label, as well as a few transcription recordings made during the War. Foley's pop potential is readily apparent: he has a smooth voice that never wavers or strains, and a mellow approach that stands at odds with the rowdy joshing-around that other country stars strived for at the time. He also had a way of singing a novelty sone so that it sounded like a weeper, and a sense of how to play around the beat that helped subtly accentuate the bouncy rhythms, much like Bing Crosby, the king crooner of the day. Unfortunately, this last knack was what Foley really lost when he embraced the Nashville Sound -- his sense of bounce and his sense of style. So if you want to check out an Opry star before he lost his edge, check this out. Hillbilly Fever In The Ozarks (#9014, above) is also pretty awesome.

[Bronco Buster CD 9035]
Yodeling Gene Autry "Hillbilly And Western Rhythm"

[Bronco Buster CD 9036]
Johnny Tyler "Swingin' And Rockin' Western Style"

A colossal set of boogie-inflected, mid-1940s honky-tonk from this nasal Arkansas shouter. This disc is a revelation: why does NOBODY know about or talk about this guy?? Tyler bears a strong vocal resemblance to Lefty Frizzell, though arguably Tyler was a more forceful, dynamic singer. And his band, with tight fiddle/steel/guitar riffs laid over a thumping, goodtime-y bass, makes every song on this disc a treat. Definitely one of the strongest releases in the Binge Disc catalog -- not to be ignored!

[Bronco Buster CD 9037]
Faron Young "...And The Circle-A Wranglers"

[Bronco Buster CD 9038]
The Prairie Ramblers "Swingin' Down The Orchard Lane"

Rollicking string band swing from Patsy Montana's back-up band. The Ramblers swung on everything they tackled, from corny cowboy compositions to mildly naughty hokum blues and cute Depression-era novelty songs. A catchy, upbeat outfit with some hot pickers -- this disc is definitely worth tracking down.

[Bronco Buster CD 9039]
Arthur Smith "Original Guitar Boogie"

[Bronco Buster CD 9040]
Jimmy Wakely "The Fabulous Jimmy Wakely Trio"

[Bronco Buster CD 9041]
Tex Williams "Western Swing Nostalgia"

[Bronco Buster CD 9042]
Jimmy Wakely "The Legendary Jimmy Wakely Trio"

[Bronco Buster CD 9043]
The Phelps Brothers "Two Decades Of Country Music"

Sort of a "brother act", these old, obscure singles are from the divergent careers of three siblings: Willie, Ernie and Norman Phelps. Although all three brothers typically pitch in on each other's recordings, the records were made under their individual names, and have very distinct sounds. Most of the tracks on here come from a couple of 1936 sessions at Decca Records, and are delightful old-timey string band music, covering mostly Tin Pan Alley standards with touches of Jimmie Rodgers/Jimmie Davis-style bluesiness. Some obscure mid-'50s sessions are also included, which feature Willie Phelps as frontman on a couple of mildly off-color tunes, some with cool, clunky electric guitar blues riffs. (Note: the three brothers also backed Ray Whitley on some western style songs, included on vol. 44 and 45.)

[Bronco Buster CD 9044]

Western music, with the "cowboy" sound, but not the home on the range subject matter. Features rare Decca singles by stars such as Jimmie Davis and Jimmy Wakely, alongside lesser-known artists such as Tiny Dodson or the Rodik Twins. Spare, sentimental old-time country music.

[Bronco Buster CD 9045]

[Bronco Buster CD 9046]
John Smith "Classics Of The Purple Sage"

[Bronco Buster CD 9047]

Pure, joyous pop country fun. These live performances feature a bunch of the biggest names in '50s country -- folks such as Patsy Cline, Webb Pierce, Marty Robbins and Ferlin Husky -- letting their hair down in ways that the tightly crafted Nashville studio system wouldn't normally allow. Cline, in particular, has some fascinating moments on here -- her versions of "Walking The Dog" and "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" highlight her in a more rural mode than what we typically remember her for. Also, it's cool to hear a young Mel Tillis wailing away on one of the early hits he fed to Webb Pierce ("Honky Tonk Song") as well as on a Hank Williams chestnut ("Jambalaya"). This is one of the most flat-out fun discs in this series, and also one of the best records to pick up if you want to check this label out. Highly recommended!

[Bronco Buster CD 9048]

A perfect companion to the HILLBILLY FEVER CD, this has several artists more off the beaten track -- Autry Inman, Gordon Terry, Rusty & Doug -- folks who were in the middle of the country scene back in the '50s and '60s, but left by the wayside over the years by the major label reissues. There are also plenty of tracks with well-known artists kicking around in styles we don't normally associate them with -- Floyd Cramer doing a slick rockabilly number, Patsy Cline belting out a rock tune, Webb Pierce covering an Everly Brothers song... Little moments that wouldn't make it onto their official albums, but lit up the stage at various radio and TV performances over the years. Really, really nice stuff... catchy and accessible, and certainly one of the first discs I would recommend to someone checking this label out for the first time. YUMMY.

[Bronco Buster CD 9049]
Harry Torrani "Yodelling To You"

[Bronco Buster CD 9050]
Red River Dave "Honky Tonkin' Thelma"

[Bronco Buster CD 9051]
Bud Isaacs "The Swingin' Steel Guitar Of Bud Isaacs"

[Bronco Buster CD 9052]
Bud Isaacs "The Master Of The Steel Guitar"

[Bronco Buster CD 9050]
Cindy Walker "The Swingin' Cowgirl From Texas" (Bronco Buster, 1998)

Walker has gone down in country history as one of the great songwriters of yesteryear, yet even with several hits in the 1940s, her efforts as a recording artist have long been forgotten. This disc should go a long ways to correct that imbalance -- 26 tracks worth fabulous mid-to-late '40s pop/country with modest backing and consistently fine, bluesy vocals. There is a strong rural edge to her voice, with rough edges left in that clearly show Walker's country roots, even when she was firmly ensconced in the Hollywood showbiz scene. This was back in the days when the trumpet was an acceptable lead instrument in country music and, like Merle Travis, she used it well -- there's also some great pickin' and steel playing, along with the occasional sleepy arrangement. What makes this especially great, though, is the material, mostly Walker originals, including several outstanding bitter, blame-filled breakup songs. This is a precious historic resource for country music lovers -- not to be missed!

[Bronco Buster CD 9055]

A great collection, although many of these gal-singer rarities are more interesting as cultural kitsch than as musical treasures. Many of these artists were legitimate second-stringers, although of course we have to take into account the limited role of women as solo artists in the pre-Kitty Wells days. But even the most vocally challenged, such as Chickie Williams or Joan Brooks, have their charms. And Bonnie Lou, captured in an early performance around 1949, has a rural brusqueness to rival Melba Montgomery's -- the sort of Oakie curl that Nashville has spent decades trying to expunge from country music... it's nice to be able to hear country's hick roots preserved so well. Plus, this is a pretty convenient place to find the great classic "girl singer" cowboy song, the vaguely fetishistic "I Wanna Be A Real Cowboy Girl," recorded in 1935 by the Girls of The Golden West, along with some Patsy Montana cowgirl stuff, easily some of the cutest music ever recorded. There are also some unexpected, unknown gems like the peppy "The Moon Shines Still On The Moonshine Still," by Judy Perkins... Minnie Pearl's "joke" singing I can live without, but for anyone curious about women in country music history, this disc is a must.

Autry Inman "Great Hillbilly Classics" (Binge Discs, 2006)
Ho-o-o-ly cow! What an awesome set of hillbilly oldies... I have a few chunks of vinyl floating around somewhere with Autry Inman on 'em, but nothing prepared me for what a kickass treasure trove this CD would be... These recordings, from 1949-54, are pure hard-country gold: uptempo novelty songs, sorrowful weepers, raspy twangtunes and proto-rockbilly from the hillbilly boogie era. This disc concentrates on Inman's first big contract, on Decca Records, and it's packed with gems, almost all of them originals written by Inman (or credited to his wife, Mary Drummond). It's truly a wealth of class-A, unpretentious, catchy, old-fashioned country goodness -- Inman had a singular vocal presence, like Hank Williams or Webb Pierce, that just leaps out at you, projecting energy and enthusiasm. The songs are great, too: my favorite is "Stop Stallin' (Start Fallin' In Love)" but straight weepers like "Does Your Sweetheart Seem Different Lately" and all the others are winners as well. The last half of the disc features duets with a guy named Floyd Robinson, who Inman collaborated with in a star-crossed duo known as "Jack & Daniel." Amazingly, none of this stuff really went anywhere -- Inman was just another one of those great old country singers who couldn't quite get a break. But those of us lucky enough to pick this disc up will treasure it for years to come. (Hopefully Binge Disc will do a follow-up album... They mention a lot of other interesting stuff he did later in life, and maybe that can be dug up as well. Anyway, the best way to get this album is straight from the label:


Cowgirlboy is definitely low-tech, and currently has no distributor in the United States... letters or faxes are the way to go here. Mail orders are welcome, but you will have to contend with converting your currency into Deutschmarks... but don't let that dissuade you!

c/o Dagmar Anita Binge
P. O. Box 1350
D-97443 Gerolzhofen

International Fax #: 49 9382 90642

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