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Jim Reeves’ part in the development of country music isn’t always appreciated like it might. His smooth singing voice was something to behold, and though I admittedly, I am a far greater fan of the likes of Hank Williams, the Carter Family and the Outlaw movement. On those occasions I do allow myself to sit still and absorb Reeves’ work, fully, the experience could not be more rewarding. Gentleman Jim was a phenomenal talent, and if it wasn’t for him dying in a plane crash, agonisingly close to his Nashville home in 1964 there is no end to what he may have achieved. Albeit, his record label did have a few hits in the can when he passed.
Effortlessly, he would wrap his vocals ‘round the lyrics, and unknown to many he wasn’t only a great vocalist, but as heard on Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves his appreciation of traditional country music and journey in the music business is riveting. Well versed in folk ballads too, Reeves’ shares among others such gems as “The Wreck Of The Number Nine” to go with (interspersed with dialogue as Reeves speaks of touring South Africa, his school days and early days as a radio broadcaster) the listener gets to enjoy “Scarlet Ribbons”, “Mexican Joe” and the classic “He’ll Have To Go”, and even a brief airing of Jimmie Rogers’ performing the first song he recalls, “Blue Yodel No. 5”.
Blue Side Of Lonesome is a mellow set of tunes. Big productions as was the music coming out of Nashville back then, as strings and backing singers came into their own. Among the treasures you have Reeves' version of Jack Clements’ timeless ballad ‘I Know One’ (a hit for Reeves in 1960, and Charley Pride in 1967, and number 6 for both acts).
A Touch Of Sadness likewise focuses on gentle love ballads, other than the bouncy “In A Mansion Stands My Love” (Johnny Russell). Here is an album for the avid Jim Reeves fan, totally. Produced, as standard by RCA legend, Chet Atkins (he writes in the liner notes for Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves ‘the fact he was so versatile in his thinking made him one of the most interesting people I ever met’) Reeves’ mellow tones ease through the selection in a fashion as smooth as the water on a calm Mill Pond.
Jim Reeves On Stage is in the main, a lively affair. Decorated with not only his popular tunes there is Reeves’ hugely entertaining impersonations (tributes). The album opens with a medley featuring “Mexican Joe” and “Yonder Comes A Sucker” before moving through other medleys that include essential Reeves’ fare in “Four Walls” and “He’ll Have To Go” before a terrific set of impersonations / tributes to Ernest Tubb, Cal Smith, Kitty Wells, Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell and the Carter Family. After which you have his own hits “The Blizzard”, “Bimbo”, “Your Old Letters” and “Am I Losing You” and more to savour. Not least there’s the wonderful playing of his band, The Blue Boys! One of the best around at the time.
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