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Gene Autry

At the Melody Ranch – 2000 (Collectors' Choice Music)

Reviewed by Rachel Leibrock

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CDs by Gene Autry

Perhaps the most famous of the singing cowboys, Gene Autry made his mark on both the radio and the silver screen. This chronicles Autry's entry into showbiz with excerpts from radio programs he recorded during the '40's. Radio recordings of classics, such as "Back in the Saddle Again" and "Hair of Gold, Eyes of Blue," sound sweet and melancholy and a re-enactment of Autry's noteworthy meeting with Will Rogers is a fun listen.

Newer fans seeking a little history, however, will be sorely disappointed. While the radio excerpts do a nice job of polishing Autry's homespun, folksy image, they do little to fill in the historical blanks. Likewise, the accompanying liner notes are sparse. You're out of luck if you want to know who sings with Autry on various tunes. In all, a pleasant, if unsatisfying package.