Picks and Pans Review: Riders Go Commercial

updated 08/28/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/28/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Riders in the Sky

The concept of this way off-the-beaten-trail country comedy album is that the Riders are threatened because they are on the same label as Tiffany. While she ships platinum every time she twitches her ponytail, Ranger Doug, Too Slim and Woody Paul have a hard time shipping cow chip. So they decide to try making an album full of commercials.

Citing the squeeze-box boom, for instance, they offer a series of lessons in accordion repair—"before Paul Simon calls someone else." There's an exciting record offer—"Perfume, Passion and Polka"—which offers such classics as Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto in B Flat No. 1 and Ravel's Bolero played as polkas. The "Geezer Training Course" attempts to fill that burning need of the modern Western movie: someone to do what Gabby Hayes, Fuzzy Knight, Walter Brennan and Raymond Hatton used to do—sputter, throw their hats down and call anyone younger than 72 "whippersnappers."

The Riders (Fred LaBour, Douglas Green and Paul Chrisman) lapse into straight country singing on such tunes as "Along the Navajo Trail" and "Ride with Me Gringo" (a LaBour song about Pancho Villa that sounds like something the Riders should be spoofing, not performing). This smacks rather loudly of padding, as if when they got to the "Toolkit in a Holster" bit, they had run out of ideas.

When they're funny, though, these saddle pals are good-naturedly, breezily and thoroughly enjoyable, like three Weird Als in a tranquil mood. (MCA)

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