Day 73: The Coronavirus Countdown - 100 Days of Great Music

There's not much to connect Marty Robbins to Terrence Trent D'Arby, our two featured artists of the day.

So it's a good day instead just to explore the roots of one of those artists, and it's hard to beat the music of the legendary Marty Robbins. The album featured today by Robbins is one of country music's earliest classic albums, and as the title suggests, it features music that evokes the cowboy spirit of the Old West.

About a quarter of a century before Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs was released in 1959, the singing cowboys dominated the country music market on record. They were also a force in Hollywood which made stars out of cowboy heroes like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and The Sons Of The Pioneers. It was the 1930's, long before the LP came along, and Roy Rogers was actually a member of the Sons of the Pioneers before striking out under his own name. His music is part of the inspiration behind Robbins' album that we feature today, and the 1999 box set Happy Trails: The Roy Rogers Collection takes a deeper look at Rogers' career after his exit from the Sons Of The Pioneers in 1937. It's also your bonus pick of the day.

- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb


Terrent Trent D'Arby

Introducing the Hardline to Terrence Trent D'Arby (1987)

Why I Love It

Released shortly after I graduated from high school, this debut album blew me away on first listen. With some fantastic songs and a stunningly beautiful voice, D'Arby made an amazing record that was also a huge commercial success. The album produced five singles, including "Wishing Well" and "Sign Your Name," but the deep cuts more than hold their own, as well. He goes from a whisper ("As Yet Untitled) to a scream ("Dance Little Sister) and everything in between at the drop of a hat, which I love. The record also culminates with one of my all-time favorite cover songs, his take on the Smokey Robinson classic "Who's Loving You." Although D'Arby never equaled the success of his first album, he contributed one of the best albums of the 1980s. Nowadays, he still records under the name Sananda Maitreya. I would love for him to do a tour and play this album in its entirety. If he ever does, take my money.

Album Highlights

"Wishing Well," "Sign Your Name" and "As Yet Untitled"

Kendall on Chuck's Album of the Day

Whoa, now here's a blast from the past. Terrence Trent D'Arby disappeared from the scene almost as fast as his hit record blew up, but there for a short time, this music was everywhere. It's very much a product of its time, but it was good to give this one a spin again after more than 20 years I'm sure.


Marty Robbins

Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs (1959)

Why I Love It

I still have my father's original vinyl copy of this album dating back to 1959. It's been part of our family since its release 61 years ago, and I wore it out as a child.

Dad had all of Marty Robbins' early LP's, and he was one of the first country artists to embrace the concept album idea. Johnny Cash and, to some extent, Merle Haggard and others would follow that trail eventually. But nobody ever did it better than this.

This was the album that introduced Marty's classic "El Paso" to the world, but the range of styles and songs are all over the map here. The one thing they all share is spirit of the Old West embodied in the album's title. One of the most enduring and beloved collections in country music history.

Album Highlights

"Big Iron," "Cool Water" and "El Paso"

Chuck on Kendall's Album of the Day

This is an artist I am kicking myself for not including on my list. Marty Robbins was the first true storytelling artist I can recall hearing. I was also born in El Paso, so I was a fan the instant I heard him croon about my hometown. Nobody tells a story through song quite like this legendary balladeer. The fact that this album was recorded in one eight-hour session amazes me. It's an outstanding record that I love. Interesting side note: the tune of "El Paso" is used as the fight song for the University of Texas at El Paso. Way cool.

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