Bob Wills – Ida Red Likes the Boogie

As part of Bear Family Records‘ long-running Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight series, the label has released a compilation of Bob Wills recordings. Entitled Ida Red Likes The Boogie, the compilation contains 30 tracks. The majority of the recordings were made between 1947 and 1960, with a few from the late-’30s, early ’40s and late ’60s.

Throughout a selection of various vocalists handling the lyrics, the constant in Bob Wills’ output is the musicianship. His group of musicians were named the Texas Playboys. What we hear on this compilation makes it clear that Wills was a worthy competitor for the most popular contemporary dance bandleaders such as Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey.

There is no doubt that Bob Wills’ music makes you want to move. It is irresistible from the moment the opening track, There’s Not A Hundred Miles Left In Me, begins. The selection of tracks makes it clear how celebratory Wills was of the musicians in his band. With frequent references to each instrumental soloist, the music feels joyous. The subject matter contained in the lyrics doesn’t seem to matter. Whether the song discusses heartbreak or jubilation, the sound maintains the same energy and zest.

It is great to hear so much of Wills’ most successful and popular period represented on Ida Red Likes The Boogie. It is the era during which he was equally contemporary and innovative. Somehow he managed to guide his band in a very palatable jazz-swing style, while popularising the early use of microphones, drums and electrified instruments in the live setting of dance concerts. It gives the recordings here a unique mixture of traditional music and addictive swing.

A highlight, for me, is the collaborative-as-ever I Laugh When I Think How I Cried Over You. In it, Wills names several of the performers. It is poignant to hear the young Johnny Gimble called out. He spent much time praising and celebrating Bob Wills in later years. It is clear why, since Wills gives such credit to the Playboys. Another favourite is There’s Not A Hundred Miles Left In Me, the most recent number, recorded in 1969. There is something pleasingly full about the recording. The more modern techniques make the track feel so warm and immediate.

Sound Quality…

The sound quality here is great, with very little apart from recording techniques and musical style to suggest a particular era. It would be easy to assume that a recording from 1937 would sound worse than one from twenty years later. Here that does not seem to be the case. Each era sounds different of course but the quality is maintained highly throughout.

A Little Something Extra…

The accompanying booklet is 34 pages long. It contains extensive biographical information about Wills, his life and his career. There are also plenty of photos and detailed recording session information included. It is a valuable addition to the listening experience, adding context to each track in turn.


  1. There’s Not A Hundred Miles Left In Me
  2. Nothin’ But The Best For My Baby
  3. Charlie Changed His Mind
  4. Steamboat Stomp
  5. Keep Knocking (But You Can’t Come In)
  6. Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Age
  7. I Didn’t Realise
  8. Ida Red Likes The Boogie
  9. Trouble, Trouble Blues
  10. Talkin’ Bout You
  11. So Let’s Rock
  12. Bottle Baby Boogie
  13. The Devil Ain’t Lazy
  14. Twin Guitar Special
  15. Snatchin’ And Grabbin’
  16. I’ll Have Somebody Else
  17. Yearning (Just For You)
  18. What’s The Matter With The Mill
  19. Texas Drummer Boy
  20. Cadillac In Model ‘A’
  21. Sugar Baby
  22. Hubbin’ It
  23. Nothing But Trouble
  24. Whoa Babe
  25. Jolie Blond Likes The Boogie
  26. I Laugh When I Think How I Cried Over You
  27. Bring It On Down To My House
  28. Rock-A-Bye Baby Blues
  29. Pray For The Lights To Go Out
  30. I Won’t Be Back Tonight

In Conclusion…

I think for my personal taste, I would have preferred to listen to the tracks in chronological order. However, mixing up the eras does ensure that each variation of Wills’ sound is broken up a little and doesn’t get monotonous.

Ida Red Likes The Boogie serves as a great introduction to Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. I think it would be an equally rewarding listening experience for a seasoned fan. It will also sit well alongside the rest of the Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight series from Bear Family.

Wills was the master of his style and worked with such talented musicians. The era from which most of the tracks come could be seen as rather staid and dreary in hindsight. But there is such life and movement in these performances. I thoroughly recommend this compilation to anybody who enjoys dance music, country or swing.

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