Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

My Hero Gene Autry – 1998 (Western Jubilee)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

CDs by Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Gene Autry turned 90 last September, and the occasion was celebrated with several shows at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage featuring cowboy singer Don Edwards backed by The Time-Warp Top Hands. Fortunately for us, the proceedings were committed to tape, and this album collects 13 strong renditions of some of Autry's best-loved songs, as well as the Marty Robbins-penned title cut.

Edwards offers beautiful readings of songs like "That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine" (with harmony vocals from Peter Rowan, who appears on three other songs), "Mexicali Rose," "South Of The Border," and "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You," and less well-known gems such as "Ridin' Down The Canyon" and Cindy Walker's "Cowboy Blues."

The Top Hands, led by non-pedal steel guitarist Tom Morrell, provide sympathetic accompaniment that is squarely within the vein of the originals without relying excessively on copycat arrangements or cliches. The result is an exceptionally warm, enjoyable set - nearly an hour - of western and cowboy songs. Mr. Autry couldn't have asked for a better tribute.