From the Vault...


Lorne Greene
"On The Ponderosa: Lorne Greene And His Western Classics"

© Razor & Tie Records
< Year of Release: 1997

track listing
  • Bonanza
  • Ponderosa
  • Skip To My Lou
  • The Ol' Chisholm Trail
  • Five Card Stud
  • Ringo
  • Riders In The Sky
  • Cool Water
  • Whoopi Ti Yi Yo
  • Pretty Horses
  • The Devil's Grin
  • The Man
  • An Ol' Tin Cup (And A
    Battered Ol'
    Coffee Pot)
  • Sixteen Tons
  • Endless Prairie
  • Mule Train
  • Tumbling Tumbleweeds
  • Waco
  • My Sons My Sons
  • Saga Of The Ponderosa

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    Lorne Greene
    "On The Ponderosa: Lorne Greene And His Western Classics"

    From the "I Can't Believe HE Had An Album!" Section... Actually, he had quite a few...

    Yes, Lorne Greene: Bonanza. Ponderosa. Ben Cartright and his sons: Adam (Pernell Roberts), Hoss (Dan Blocker), and Little Joe (Michael Landon). Believe it or not, Lorne Greene shares a common factor with such artists as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Elton John, Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey (as well as many others): He had a #1 song on the music charts.

    The year was 1964, and his #1 song was entitled Ringo. Maybe everyone thought that he was singing about The Beatles' Ringo Starr. Not true: A talking (spoken word) song, it tells the tale of the man shot Wild Bill Hickok, a well-known western outlaw.

    On The Ponderosa: Lorne Greene And His Western Classics is a greatest hits compilation from various singles and albums he recorded in the heyday of the television series Bonanza/Ponderosa (1962-1966).

    Of these songs, there are some that are quite listenable, but not many. His singing in The Ol' Chisholm Trail is not that bad. But the talking songs are much better. In fact, his speaking voice is brilliant, just like the voices of great talents such as Orson Welles and James Earl Jones. Like Ringo, Five Card Stud has a pretty cool music track, as the spoken word tale of playing the card game Five Card Stud is heard. This song ranks in the same caliber as Phil Harris and/or Tex Ritter's Deck Of Cards. Both songs tell a great story, dealing with card games.

    The Devil's Grin is a "spin-off" song from Ringo: Another talking song, pretty much using the same music track, and another tale of an outlaw. Even An Ol' Tin Cup has some singing, and spoken word, yet it's not that bad. Another same spin-off, Waco, is from the movie of the same name, starring Howard Keel. It's not as good as the three songs previously mentioned, but it follows the same strategy: A talking song about an outlaw, with the familiar music track.

    But just when I thought the spoken word-talking songs are considered the "best" from this collection, Pretty Horses is spoken in a somewhat "excited voice state" where it should of been just been in normal voice as Ringo and Five Card Stud. But luckily, Pretty Horses is less than two minutes in length. Once this song ends, it's gone and surely forgotten. The theme songs from Bonanza and Ponderosa are here, and sung by Mr. Greene himself. Skip To My Lou, features the entire Cartwright "Family": Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker and Michael Landon. After hearing these three songs, you just may want to forget them. (See where this review is going? But wait, there's more! Read on...)

    However, attempting to cover a great song such as Johnny Cash's (Ghost) Riders in the Sky just doesn't cut it for Lorne Greene. Even the background singers are bad. (This is a good song for Rhino Records' Golden Throats Series). Endless Prairie has a music track similar to (Ghost) Riders, and again it's a less memorable event to listen to. The standard western song Cool Water has it's moments; I take that back, Greene's version is bad, too.

    And there's the get-along-li'l-doggy Whoopi Ti Yi Yo. Keep on going, there's no looking back on this one, and cover your ears while you're at it. The Man has a nice country-sounding Floyd Cramer piano sound. That's the good news. The singing? Well, yes again, it's bad. He also takes a shot at Tennessee Ernie Ford's Sixteen Tons, and if Tennessee Ernie ever heard it when he was alive, he would take his gun and shoot it himself. I can't help but laugh hysterically when I hear Greene's version; it is just plain bad, making this another Golden Throats candidate. Ford's Sixteen Tons is a classic, leave it for Tennessee Ernie. No one else does it better than the original. In that same department, he also takes a shot at Frankie Laine's Mule Train. My review of this song? Same as Sixteen Tons: Bad.

    But just when you're about to rip this CD out of the machine, Tumbling Tumbleweeds seems to lessen the cringing from many previous songs. It's pleasant, and I think the background singers help Lorne Greene in a big way on this one. Waco is the next available track, and it seems that the cringing is almost going away. But, just when you thought it was safe to keep listening, My Sons, My Sons has some cringing moments (especially when the singing parts kick in). Can I take the CD out now?

    No, there's one more track, and it's the last one: Saga Of The Ponderosa. It's another bad one, and when it's done, your punishment is finally over. You're done listening to this compilation. You can remove your arms now from the straps, and remove the CD from the machine, and do whatever your heart's desire with it.

    Can you obviously determine what my final rating is for this album? When Rhino Records released their Golden Throats series, (there's four of them!) It features well-known celebrities (who are not singers) taking a crack in trying to join the ranks of a Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole or an Elvis Presley: They try to sing. And the end results is JUST PLAIN BAD. It's best to tell these well-known personalities to go back to their regular jobs: Acting. (Whether they can act or not is another story.)

    I'm sure everyone involved, like Lorne Greene, probably enjoyed making these recordings, knowing that they were good or (most likely) bad. It was something different to do. And like Dr. Demento, he, (as well as I) jumped to the opportunity in wanting (yes, wanting!) to listen to these songs and, cringe, laugh, cry, and enjoy (!) (Well, at least try to enjoy. If you laugh at something, does that mean you're enjoying it?)

    If it deals with music, you'll find it here on the website. Whether how good, fair or bad it may be. If you can't believe that the late Lorne Greene (he passed away in 1987) was a singer, then you won't believe (but it's true) that talk show hosts Morton Downey Jr. and Jerry Springer both recorded albums too. One of these albums (or maybe both?) WILL be reviewed here on this website at a later (probably much later) date. (YIKES!)

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