THE ORIGINAL TEXAS PLAYBOYS Under The Direction Of Leon McAuliffe (1979)

Under The Direction Of Leon McAuliffe (1979)
Note-Perfect Modernized Take On Texas Swing

One of my all-time favorite albums. A cassette of this one didn’t leave the car for two years in the early 80s, and it took a half-decade of trolling Ebay before finding an original vinyl copy of this excellent, feel-good album by surviving members of Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys. What I find most appealing about this LP, recorded “under the direction” of steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe, is its smooth, faultless execution, captured – for once – with modern recording technology. The high-energy, free-wheeling Western Swing of the 40s may be tempered by age, but this new strain has all the elements and the tradition is alive and well. In a way, despite the lively fiddles, this isn’t really Texas Swing, save the two instrumental Bob Wills covers, as this album was devised with modern country radio in mind. As a result, much of the genre’s cartoon-like harmonies and trademarked mix of strings and steel guitars is largely missing. And while I love the original style, I almost prefer this easy-going alternative, primarily because of vocalist Leon Rausch, who is a professional wonder – delivering his rich, casual vocal style with a veteran’s ease that, at times, suggests the easy-going air of Willie Nelson. There are surely more appropriate comparisons, but since I’m not a student of the genre you’re stuck with the broad strokes. This is a vinyl rip, so there’s some surface noise. Listen to a few tunes below, including the authentically swinging Bob Wills original, “Big Beaver.” For the full effect, listen to this almost every day for a few years. Never on CD, but Amazon’s still got the vinyl HERE. We’ve got more Wills & The Playboys in the archives, HERE.

Walking On New Grass (2:27)
Played The Game Too Long (2:13)
Blue Bonnet Rag (1:53)
I’m Satisfied With You (1:59)
That’s My Home (2:43)
Big Beaver (2:34)
It’s My Life (3:10)
Heaven, Hell Or Houston (2:33)
Silver Bells (That Ring In The Night) (2:20)
Blues So Bad (3:14)


  • 1
    July 5, 2011 - 08:20 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • 2
    July 5, 2011 - 08:57 | Permalink

    Thanks Willard, looking forward to this.

  • 3
    Art Ducko
    July 5, 2011 - 13:00 | Permalink

    Thanks again, pardner. The Playboys should be heard on vinyl with a little surface noise. Sheer bliss.

  • 4
    July 5, 2011 - 13:24 | Permalink

    Thanks again Willard, looks like another goody

  • 5
    July 5, 2011 - 17:24 | Permalink

    This sounds like proto alt country or whatever it is Dwight Yoakam, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, or that other guy who briefly married Julia Roberts play.

  • 6
    July 5, 2011 - 19:43 | Permalink

    I threw down on the whole set of Tiffany Transcriptions a few years ago. Man, those guys could swing!


    • 7
      July 5, 2011 - 20:36 | Permalink

      I’ve heard a few of those. That toe-tappin’ stuff was pretty irresistible. I’m not a Wills disciple, and over the years I’ve sacrilegiously tired of his shouts and calls, but I still love the old Texas Swing style. This LP was an alternate version – and seemingly perfect – to my ears. Note: “L. Helm,” presumably The Band’s Levon Helm, co-writes the tracks that end each side, one with Dr. John.

  • 8
    July 6, 2011 - 09:18 | Permalink

    I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard this. Looking forward to it. Is Jesse Ashlock one of the fiddle players?

    • 9
      July 6, 2011 - 09:57 | Permalink

      Here’s the line up.

      Drums: Smokey Dacus
      Bass: Joe Ferguson (Background vocals on “That’s My Home”)
      Piano: Al Stricklin
      Guitar: Bob Kizer
      Fiddle: Jack Stidham
      Fiddle: Bob Boatright
      Steel Guitar: Leon McAuliffe
      Vocals: Leon Rausch

      Produced by David Cavanaugh & Vince Cosgrave

  • 10
    July 6, 2011 - 12:35 | Permalink

    Once again the Captain is turning his passengers onto great music. I’ve been aware of this rcording for many years – – and have it enjoyed it for as many. Merle Haggard got a good many of the Texas Playboys together (and Bob Wills participated in the recording until Wills suffered a stroke) and released a double (vinyl that is and I can’t find it!) album. If anybody has that – it’s well worth listening to as is the one the Captain has been so generous to share.


  • 11
    July 7, 2011 - 09:32 | Permalink

    The captain is the man.

  • 12
    July 7, 2011 - 21:09 | Permalink

    Thanks! This is great stuff!

  • 13
    Jerry Lee
    June 9, 2013 - 10:10 | Permalink

    Ahh haaaa!! Thanks Willard!

  • 14
    June 9, 2013 - 10:35 | Permalink

    I loves me a good vinyl rip. Thanks again.

  • 15
    June 9, 2013 - 13:13 | Permalink

    Hey, G: the double lp you’re looking for is “For The Last Time” It’s in Willard’s archives, and is highly recommended, as are the Tiffany collections. You can’t go wrong with any Bob Wills!

  • 16
    June 10, 2013 - 12:14 | Permalink

    Willard — Thanks for this, it’s delightful!

  • 17
    June 10, 2013 - 15:38 | Permalink

    I think you can make a case that Texas Swing never really was Texas Swing, but a shape-shifting amalgam of musics that happened to have two fiddles in the band. You can also argue persuasively that only Bob Wills ever really performed Texas Swing (in the same way that only Bill Monroe played Bluegrass).

    But y’know, I find this kind of music among the least deserving of a beatdown by musicologists. The greatest tribute you can pay these players is putting on their records and turning them up. If you have the dexterity to dance to it as well, even better. Just don’t overthink it.

    Thanks for a great post!

  • 18
    June 11, 2013 - 00:13 | Permalink


    You’re a class act, and so this recording. Nice of you to share some stylish swing with incredible flair. Grade A music here.

  • 19
    Duncan Walls
    June 11, 2013 - 06:25 | Permalink

    Was this released on Capitol Records? I think I had this at one point when one of my buddies was working at Capitol and was sending me a ton of promos. It was a killer as I recall. Haven’t heard this one in years. Thanks for the memories. Aw-HAW!

  • Leave a Reply