Les Wilson (The Otago Rambler) & Jean Calder – The Otago Rambler Sings And Yodels Country & Trail Songs

Les Wilson CD cover
Les Wilson CD cover

The Otago Rambler Sings and Yodels Country and Trail Songs

– Les Wilson (The Otago Rambler) & Jean Calder

Jasmine JASMCD 3761 (Mono)

Les Wilson was from New Zealand, and his Western-type trail songs and country recordings were popular in both New Zealand and Australia from the time they were recorded in the 1940s and 50s until today. His wife, Jean Calder, accompanies him on a number of these tracks, all of which were recorded for the HMV label. Many of them were his own compositions, e.g. “Rollin’ Wagons,” “Silver Wings” (not the song associated with Merle Haggard), “Drifting Along,” “Lost Cowboy,” “Roundup Time,” “Rockonover River” and others.

This last one, in particular, will be of interest to many listeners because it’s one the Hays County Gals & Pals recorded and performed for enthusiastic audiences in 1996 (they had recorded his “Roundup Time” two years earlier). Back then, “no one” knew who the composer of either song was (Les’s recordings had been out-of-print for years) and no one knew the correct spelling of the river’s name, or that the river in the title was an imaginary one!

In his extensive liner notes, historian/broadcaster Paul Hazell describes Les’s yodels as “Carter-styled” and refers to his voice as “gritty, western-styled,” complemented nicely by Jean’s “sweet, melodic voice.” Their sound became quite popular, well into the latter half of the 1900s, even though they retired in the 1960s.

The single disc contains 27 tracks and is widely available online. I found it to be an enjoyable collection of The Otago Rambler’s work.

O.J Sikes

Track Listing

1. Rolling Down The Great Divide
2. A Pub With No Beer
3. Old Yellow Moon
4. The Wahine Song (The Wahine’s Farewell) – W/Jean Calder
5. Croonin’ Bachelor – W/Jean Calder
6. Tomorrow – W/Jean Calder
7. Dear Old Daddy Of Mine – W/Jean Calder
8. Rollin’ Wagons – W/Jean Calder
9. A Garden Of Roses – W/Jean Calder
10. Silver Wings
11. The First Sad Year – W/Jean Calder
12. Rock And Roll Yodelling Song
13. My Memories – W/Jean Calder
14. That’s A Sad Affair
15. Drifting Along
16. Mother Of A Honky Tonk Girl – W/Jean Calder
17. May I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight, Mister? – W/Jean Calder
18. Lost Cowboy – W/Jean Calder
19. Be Careful Of Stones That You Throw
20. Rockonover River
21. How Can You Refuse Him Now? – W/Jean Calder
22. Rambling Rose – W/Jean Calder
23. Roundup Time
24. Down The Trail Of Aching Hearts – W/Jean Calder
25. White Dove – W/Jean Calder
26. Answer To The Pub With No Beer
27. Summertime