||From the Vault...
"On The Ponderosa: Lorne Greene And His Western Classics"
© Razor & Tie Records
Year of Release: 1997
Skip To My Lou
The Ol' Chisholm Trail
Five Card Stud
Riders In The Sky
Whoopi Ti Yi Yo
The Devil's Grin
An Ol' Tin Cup (And ABattered Ol'Coffee Pot)
My Sons My Sons
Saga Of The Ponderosa
Lorne Greene related sites:
"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,
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 WSVNRadio.net 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.
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