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Four posthumous releases make up this collection, the first album Young & Country (1971) is made up of what originally were demos, and if it wasn’t for his untimely death would have stayed thus. But a little additional instrumentation to go with Jim Reeves’ guitar, and you have an album! All songs bear Reeves name in the song writing credits (“Never Take No For An Answer” is the solitary a co-write) as he tried to form material of a romantic nature that he felt people desired most, and though as stated in the liner notes the recordings don’t enjoy all the benefit of a great many technical aids such is his pure pitched voice it doesn’t matter. Reeves was a genius when it came to stranding in front of the microphone, and with his experience as radio dj he knew what worked and what didn’t. I have always had a soft spot for recordings like these.
As for the songs on Young & Country you have a bunch of choice tracks, as in the swing leaning, he was after all from the State “I’ll Tell The World I Love You” and playful “Never Take No For Answer”, jaunty infectious ode “I’ll Always Love You” and one I believe I’ve heard before “Wagon Load Of Love”. I have to admit the additional musicianship is superb, as fiddle, pedal steel, country lead guitar and piano also get into the act.
Jim Reeves Writes A Record (1971) gains its title from a quote from Tom T Hall, who also wrote the liner notes for the above, but it was on another occasions, when he was trying to explain to a group of young aspiring songwriters what made a successful record he said, ‘Songwriters write songs, but artists write records’. On the collection you have old standards join newer fare as Reeves eases, effortlessly through the likes of “When Two Fools Collide” (the original 45 version), “Angels Don’t Lie”, dramatic break up song “The Storm”, and smouldering love ballad “Wild Rose” plus arguably his finest performance on the album “After Loving You”. My summation would simply be, smooth, nicely presented but nothing to get excited about.
When I claim his bilingual version of “My Blinde Hart”, and the dark semi-monologue “Seven Days” are as good as any will give you an idea of the record you should gain more than an inkling of the music offered. For there is little to differentiate one song from another.
I Love You Because (1976) features more slow love ballads, another version of “When Two Worlds Collide”, a heart-stopping version of “I Won’t Come In While He’s There” and with a skip in his step Ned Miller’s “From A Jack To A King”. To go with his much-loved “I Love You Because” (Leon Payne), and with “I Know One” (Jack Clement) and “A Fool Such As I” (Bill Trader) two made for Reeves (and others) songs he picked two more winners. The former was a hit for Charley Pride, while the latter enjoyed chart recognition for Hank Snow, Elvis Presley and Jo Stafford among others.
Reeves’ version of “The Shifting Whispering Sands” surprised me given his track record for spoken word, having heard Johnny Cash’s interpretation I anticipated a treat in store. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Closing piece is a classy unruffled version of “Someday (You’ll Want Me To Want You)”.
Don’t Let Me Cross Over (1979) is a subject of then new modern-day technology as you had country act Deborah Allen accompany Reeves’ for five duets tracks, it certainly got Nashville talking! Title-track “Don’t Let Me Cross Over”, “When Two Worlds Collide”, and with a modern spin on “I Fall To Pieces” are all worthy of repeated listening. Solo Reeves tracks are headed by “Guilty”, Ted Daffan’s “I’m A Fool To Care” and a fine remake of “I’ve Enjoyed As Much As I Can Stand”. The record has strength in depth the all-time standard, “Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever been Blue)” and to close, gentle love ballad “After Loving You" wrapped in sympathetic tinkling rolls of piano and strings see Reeves mop up. RCA Records under the guidance of Jim’s wife, Mary Reeves did much to keep his legacy alive, and most of it was tasteful too.
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