This is the second of two pages reviewing records on this fab collector's label, concentrating on the second series of Binge Disc CDs, the "Compact Cattle" releases. This German label is the ultimate last stand for hardcore fans of old country music, folks who want to find more stuff that no one else has heard of, but still want quality material. As with the "Bronco Buster" CD series, these CDs feature 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 is a list of the CDs currently out on the Cattle Compact imprint, with comments about the albums that I've heard. I didn't include reviews of the old Cowgirlboy LPs, since there are literally hundreds of them, and most of them 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.


[Cattle Compact CCD-201]
Bob Atcher/Bonnie Blue Eyes "The Top Hand Of The Cowhands" (Cattle)

[Cattle Compact CCD-202]
Johnny Bond "The Golden Age Of Johnny Bond" (Cattle)

Many years later, when he was cranking out the albums on Starday and other labels, Bond kind of settled into a jovial drunkard role, similar to Moe Bandy's persona in the late '70s. But back when these 1940s tracks were recorded, Bond was still giving it his all, and that included some swell jazzy-bluesy licks, along with all the chugga-chugga country accordion stuff. The arrangements aren't particularly flashy, and neither are his vocals -- it's just nice stuff all around. Recommended!

[Cattle Compact CCD-203]
Smiley Burnette "Gentle Genius Of Country Music" (Cattle)

Jovial post-WWII novelty tunes with that distinctive chug-chuggin' Los Angeles Hollywood country sound. Burnette really was a Hollywood dude, having played Gene Autry's sidekick in numerous cowboy oaters... The overlap between his film and movie careers brought him into proximity to the Tinsel Town C&W set, including Merle Travis, who plays on several of these tracks. Though overall Burnette's delivery may have been a little effete or sluggish, there are still a bunch of charming tracks on here, particularly the fishing ballad, "Catfish, Take A Look At That Worm."

[Cattle Compact CCD-204]
Frank Luther/Zora Layman "Pioneers Of Country Music" (Cattle)

[Cattle Compact CCD-205]
Bill Boyd "The Eyes Of Texas" (Cattle)

[Cattle Compact CCD-206]
Buddy Jones "The Louisiana Honky Tonk Boy" (Cattle Compact, 1998)

I've always felt ambivalent about Buddy Jones, based on the Texas Rose LP from the early '80s. I've always suspected that the problem was that that album just suffered from flat sound quality... and sure enough, once you hear these old Decca recordings (from 1937-1941), released in full fidelity, Jones leaps out as a giant figure in old-timey western swing history. This disc contains a passel of smutty, blues-drenched tunes, like old, Depression-era Jimmie Davis and Jimmie Rodgers recordings, but a lot more musical. Various musicians appear on these tracks -- Moon Mullican, Bob Dunn and Cliff Bruner among them -- and the recordings are all top-notch. The oddest note comes on the last track, "Huntin' Blues," from 1937, is a genuinely bizarre sex innuendo song, with dark, mysogynistic currents which are almost completely overshadowed by the surrealistic, oddball half-ententres which run throughout the narrative. The whole disc is well worth checking out.

[Cattle Compact CCD-208]
The Ranch Boys "Cowboy Harmony" (Cattle)

Fans of the Sons of the Pioneers should like these guys, too -- same turf; some blues/jazz-tinged numbers, and plenty of cornball keep-them-dogies-movin', ridin' the range songs as well. Several tracks feature rather prissy vocals, though for the most part it's solid western material. Recorded 1934-41.

[Cattle Compact CCD-211]
Al Dexter "Country Hit Maker Of The 1940s" (Cattle Compact CCD 211)

Not just a country hitmaker, but a pop one as well... Dexter's wartime tune, "Pistol Packin' Mama" was a big hit for him on the hillbilly charts, and crossed over to phenomenal success as a #1 Pop hit when Bing Crosby covered it in 1942. Dexter's version isn't included on this disc, but plenty of other great 1940s tunes are. Fans of the swinging country-pop-jazz crossovers by Merle Travis and his pals will probably dig this as well. Nice stuff!

[Cattle Compact CCD-212]
Dick Reinhart "Hot Rod Baby" (Cattle)

You'd think with an album title like that, that this would be full of amped-up semi-rockabilly, but Reinhart's day came a bit before that. Most of these tracks are from 1940-41, thought the title track and several others are from around 1947... Regardless, this is great stuff. Reinhart was actually a very relaxed, low-key singer, with a lot in common with the pop crooners of the time, particularly Bing Crosby. The material is certainly country, but there's an unhurried, comfortable air to his delivery that is quite nice. It's clear that sweet swing vocals were not unfamiliar to Reinhart, but for the most part he keeps the Basin Street/Tin Pan Alley intonations out of the music. This is a really record, featuring an artist who has been undeservedly forgotten by the country community. Check it out!

Zeke Clements "Early Star Of The Grand Ole Opry" (Binge Disc/Cattle Records, 2005)

[Cattle Compact CCD-221]
Texas Jim Lewis "Western Swing Nostalgia"

Western swing's answer to Spike Jones, Lewis specialized in relentless nuttiness -- his material includes some of Sheb Wooley's earliest novelty numbers ("Peekin' Through The Keyhole"), as well as plenty of offbeat instrumental flights, along the lines of the time-honored fiddling "bird call" tunes, "Listen To The Mocking Bird". Not everyone goes for the hillbilly novelty bit, but these tunes are pretty irresistible. Fun stuff, highly recommended!

[Cattle Compact CCD-226]
Rosalie Allen "The Hillbilly Yodel Star Of The 1940s" (Cattle)

Another great release helping to fill in some blanks 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, this is great in small doses, and highly recommended.

[Cattle Compact CCD-230]
Zeke Manners "The Golden Age Of Zeke Manners" (Cattle)

While many of the stars of the late-40s country scene tempered their penchant for novelty songs with weepers and booze tunes, the late Zeke Manners just reveled in it. It took country music over a decade to come up with an act whose devotion to novelty material matched that of Manners. But while Homer & Jethro had the goofball schtick down pat, they were a little too slick -- Manners relentless fake-yokel nuttiness has a legitimate rustic quality. It's show-biz schtick, but it's also authentically hillbilly. Plus, it's really funny. Some songs, like "I Betcha My Heart I Love You" have such bizarre lyrics that they slide into pure doggeral. Others, such as "I'm A Tired Cowboy" are delicious lampoons of wild west iconography that bring to mind the best old stuff by Dan Hicks. This CD is pretty fab -- a real find for country collectors. Recommended!

[Cattle Compact CCD-233]
Eddie Dean "The Golden Age Of Eddie Dean" (Cattle)

Fun, rare singles from country crooner Eddie Dean, who's remembered as a "singing cowboy," but who obviously dipped into harder-edged hillbilly and honkytonk material from time to time. A Texan who cut his teeth performing in the Midwest, Dean headed for Hollywood in the late 1930s, and wound up singing with actress Judy Canova, and later with an edition of the fabled Sons Of The Pioneers. Dean wrote a lot of his own material, and had two big hits to hang his hat one. "One Has My Name, The Other Has My Heart" is a marvelous heartsong standard from 1948 -- a few years later, he recorded the original version of "I Dreamed Of A Hillbilly Heaven," a novelty classic that, sadly, is not included on this disc. Still, fans of the sentimental old stuff will enjoy this album... Dean's dusty baritone can get a little corny at times... But this is fine, old-fashioned country, recorded on a variety of independent labels, mostly back in the late '40s... Definitely worth checking out!

[Cattle Compact CCD-238]
J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers "The Golden Age Of J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers" (Cattle, 2000)

If you thought old Bill Monroe sounded rough and rowdy back when he started the bluegrass sound way back when, then you gotta check these guys out! Mainer and his family enjoyed a healthy career revival in the 1960s and '70s as the old-timey folk scene unearthed them... Their latter day recordings were all quite nice, but this collection of material from the 1930s and '40s is flat out awesome. When they play fast, there's no one more clattersome and rambunctious, and when they play slow and sentimental, few folks are more hearfelt. For fans of squeeky, scraping fiddles and grizzled old-man vocals, this is the disc to check out.

[Cattle Compact CCD-239]
Frankie Marvin "The Golden Age Of Frankie Marvin" (Cattle, 2000)

Outstanding "cowboy" material from one of Gene Autry's best buddies. Frankie Marvin and his brother, Johnny, backed Autry up on some of his first recording sessions in the late 1920s -- they went to Hollywood with him and were part of his ensemble throughout the next three decades. This disc collects a couple dozen of Frankie Marvin's best solo recordings, released on a variety of labels, large and small -- it's all very rare material, and all very good. Frankie shared the same Jazz Era, vaudvillean mix of styles as his boss -- jazz, blues, old-timey and cornball western tunes mix in Marvin's repertoire; it's not all just cowboy hokum. From his first, Depression-era 78s to his later post-war material, it's all a delight. Autry fans simply have to check this out -- the uninitiated should give it a try, too: this stuff is just too good to pass up.

[Cattle Compact CCD-241]
The Shelton Brothers "Down On The Farm" (Cattle, 2001)

The East Texas-based Shelton Brothers had a great, jovial style -- a prototypical hard country sound where novelty songs nestle side by side with lightly-delivered, bluesy weepers. Although the band's sound is a little rickety and sparse, not dazzling or muscular, or overly soulful, they still pioneered the guitar solo in country music, and had a clear influence on Ernest Tubb and other early honkytonkers. This is a great set of oldies from the late 1937-41, rare 78s from the Decca label, way back in its infancy... Moon Mullican and Gene Sullivan are among the musicians, though the stars are Joe and Bob Shelton, who had a wonderful and and completely infectious sense of humor. Highly recommended, and well worth tracking down! (Also see CCD-258.)

[Cattle Compact CCD-256]
Dick Thomas "... And His Nashville Ramblers" (Cattle, 2001)

A jovial, if slightly leaden, novelty-oriented hard country from a postwar hillbilly singer originally hailing from Philadephia (of all places!) Thomas' main claim to fame is as the co-author of "Sioux City Sue," one of the biggest hit tunes of the '40s. Like many country artists of the time, he moved around constantly, migrating to whatever broadcast or recording jobs he could find. Though a little on the clumsy side, Thomas is an endearing performer, sounding quite a bit like the Canadian "ranger" who would come in his wake, Hank Snow... He also picked up a bit of the California sound during a stint in Hollywood, heard here in the chugga-chugga accordion riffs on several songs. This is a nice little collection, another one of those rarity-packed Binge Discs that you're well advised to snap up now, while it's still floating around.

[Cattle Compact CCD-257]
Curley Williams "Swing And Boogie Time With Curley Williams" (Cattle Compact CCD 257)

Rough and rugged, Georgia fiddler Curley Williams is probably best known as the author of the song, "Half As Much," which was a big hit for Hank Williams in the early '50s. Although he and Hank weren't related, their association did wonders for Curley's career, especially in terms of the royalties he made off the tune. As I mentioned, his sound was a bit on the ragged side -- this may not be one of the most musical collections in this series, but it is real country music -- as authentic as can be imagined.

[Cattle Compact CCD-258]
The Shelton Brothers "A Western Swing And Hillbilly Legend" (Cattle, 2002)

This second set of Shelton Brothers oldies has the advantage of English-language liner notes, which explain the history of this popular Depression-era brother act, their dual identity as "the Sunshine Boys" (when recording for Victor, or performing on the KWHK Louisiana Barn Ride), and their long professional association with country star (and Louisiana governor) Jimmie Davis. As with the first album, this disc is packed with sentimental oldies and lightly raucous takes on old tunes such as "Deep Elem Blues" and "Mamma Don't 'Low." Unfortunately, neither CD includes their original version of "Just Because" (later a hit for Elvis Presley), although this volume does include their 1937 remake. More great stuff; highly recommended. (Also see CCD-241.)

[Cattle Compact CCD-259]

Jesse Rogers "Wedding Bells" (Cattle, 2002)
Another winner. Apparently this fellow was a cousin of the great Jimmie Rodgers, and like many country singers in the 1930s, he started out trying to sound like the famed Blue Yodeller, but shifted towards the honkytonk style in the '40s. This CD covers Jesse's career from 1936 to 1950, time that was mostly spent on the margins of fame. He recorded a lot of cover tunes, on a lot of different labels, but when all is said and done, the guy was pretty good. A hearty, hard country singer with a pretty solid band. If you like that late '40s honkytonk sound, then this is a disc you'll want to check out. Recommended!

[Cattle Compact CCD-271]

Ray Smith "Hell's Fire" (Cattle, 2002)
This California-born country crooner was a major also-ran in the postwar hillbilly scene, first recording for indie labels in 1946, then moving up to the Columbia Records roster for a few years in the early 'Fifties. After negligible success on the charts, he dropped off the radar entirely, apparently retiring altogether around 1954. What a shame. This disc collects the bulk of Smith's recorded work, and I gotta say, he was a mighty fine singer, with pleasantly rounded tones and smooth, confident delivery. He stared out on a fairly rugged note, covering "Born To Lose" and the cheerfully vindictive "When My Day Rolls Around" (written by his steel player, Vaughn Horton), then progressively went for a softer, croonier style, edging towards the country Crosby mode. It's all pretty good stuff; another impressive archeological gem from the Binge Disc 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

  • The only retail store I've seen that carries Cowgirlboy and Binge Disc releases is Down Home Music, in El Cerrito, California. Down Home also has a stunning selection of other country, blues, jazz, oldies and international records. Their website has mailorder links, or if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, cruise by the store... and be prepared to lose a few fun-filled hours checking it out! THIS JUST IN: Down Home now has the Binge Disc catalog online!

  • You might also enjoy Roots and Rhythm, an online specialty mailorder with a websalespage entirely devoted to Cowgirlboy's vinyl releases... Mmmmmm... vinyl!

  • BRONCO BUSTER - was the first fab CD series on Binge Discs - and is also reviewed on Slipcue.Com... check it out!

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