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The Essential Jim Reeves [RCA Nashville/Legacy]

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Expertly picked 40-track anthology of Nashville hitmaker

    Reeves was a consistent presence in the country charts throughout the late 50s and early 60s, landing single after single in the upper reaches of the country charts, and often finding crossover success in the pop world. So unquenchable was the public's thirst for his work that even his untimely death in a 1964 plane crash couldn't quell his commercial success his posthumous releases continued to land at the top of the country chart throughout the rest of the '60s, and albums that mixed these hits with previously released material continued to sell briskly. ¶ Reeves' earliest successes, recorded for Fabor Robison's Abbott label, hardly predicted the soft Nashville Sound he'd spearhead just a few years later. 1953's "Mexican Joe" and "Bimbo," are chock full of twang, and though the playful lyrics are more Arthur Godfrey than Hank Williams, the barrelhouse piano, fiddle and steel are miles from the pop-influenced material Reeves would record at RCA. It was that 1955 transition, moving from Abbott to RCA (and not coincidentally moving from the Louisiana Hayride to the Grand Ol' Opry) that gave Reeves his new sound. ¶ It wasn't an instantaneous transition, as 1955's "Yonder Comes a Sucker" shows. Reeves is still singing country, and his 1956 cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "Waiting for a Train" still has fiddle and steel at the break. Where you can really start to hear the turn is with 1957's Chet Atkins produced "Four Walls," on which the tempo is slowed, smooth background singers are added, and Reeves draws out his vocal into a bona fide croon. Throughout the rest of the decade Reeves and Atkins continued to explore and tune the new sound, smoothing out both the singing and arrangements as they went. ¶ Reeves discovery of himself as a ballad singer had nothing but a positive effect on his career, sustaining his country success and crossing over with the likes of "Four Walls, "He'll Have to Go," and "Welcome to My World." Throughout the early '60s his singles continued to top the country chart while regularly turning up in the lower reaches of the pop top 100. Though Reeves could write his own material, he and Atkins also had good ears for songs from Nashville stalwarts like Roger Miller, Bill Anderson, Harlan Howard, and many others. The result is an unusually strong and deep catalog of easy-going material that shares some of the somnambulistic qualities of Perry Como, but retaining a hint of the edge with which Reeves began. ¶ Among the dozens of Reeves collections, this 2-CD set stands tall. Originally released in 2003 under the title "Jim Reeves – Anthology," it includes material that wouldn't fit on a single disc, yet it's not so encyclopedic (as is Bear Family's 16-disc "Welcome to My World") to be without focus. Reeves best-loved hits are here, running from his Abbott sides, through his early work at RCA to his most famous Nashville sound hits and through posthumous hits "Is it Really Over?" "Distant Drums" and "I Won't Come in While He's There." The rebranding of this 2003 anthology only extends to the title and cover art the track list and liner notes remain the same as the original "Anthology" release. [©2006 redtunictroll at hotmail dot com]

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