THE GREAT JIM REEVES
170 songs, 48 page booklet, including new
songs, new vocals & new musical settings Wow, if you are a long time Jim Reeves fan, like the Marmite advert famously states, you will either love this or hate it. Obviously released to coincide with the 50th anniversary ofthe singer’s tragic early death and with extensive notes by Jim Reeves biographer Larry Jordan, this is a very well-produced and attractive package which should rack up good sales in many parts ofthe world where Jim became very popular. Nobody in the whole history of country music has ever achieved such worldwide popularity as Jim Reeves, often in areas ofthe world where there is not much interest in the genre!
The whole premise of this package is that this will re-introduce Jim’s music to a new generation of listeners, and the effort and expense of providing new backings by top class musicians must be enormous! The eight CDs are divided into EARLY DAYS, RARITIES & ALTERNATE VOCALS, GOSPEL, NARRATIVES AND FOLK, THE NASHVILLE SOUND, POP STYLINGS, NEW SONGS & CHRISTMAS and IN CONCERT& INTERVIEW. There are many fans of late stars who will either buy up anything new by their favourite or simply ignore it as a complete commercial effort. Personally I have heard very fewnewrecordings of deceased artists songs that have ever worked well, with the strong exception being the re-mix version of Just A Little Conversation, where not only did they improve an Elvis album track, but gave Elvis another posthumous number one hit in Britain!
I think if you put 50 Jim Reeves fans in the same room to listen to this, many and varied would be the response, ranging frombrillianttosacrilege. Personally I’m somewhat in the middle as whilst I’m keen to hear tunes I have never heard before with nice new backings, it grated on me to hearnewbackings on tracks I have heard and
There is much to enjoy in this monumental attempt to bring new life and success to the wonderful music of Jim Reeves…
Jim Reeves THE GREAT JIM REEVES by David Brassignton loved since I first discovered them so many years ago. Several tracks I’m very familiar with on CD two, like Four Walls, Anna Marie, I Love You More and If Heartache Is The Fashion to name a few, are nothing like as good as the originals!
GOSPEL is probably the best ofthe whole release, as I always thought the two original albums were rather poorly produced, so I thinkthe enhancement does work well on some gospel classics like InTheGarden and Id Rather Have Jesus. THE NASHVILLE SOUND will probably annoy most, as many well-known big hits such as my personal favourite Adios Amigo and Distant Drums sound poorto the classic originals. If the idea is to get radio to start playing more of Jim’s music, surely it would be betterto promote the best versions?
The updated versions of pop ballads, and the Christmas songs are again acceptable as I doubt there are not too many who would be so familiar with the originals that they would wish to be contentious over these! The last CD features a live show from August 1961 in Nashville, where Jim is singing with a large symphony orchestra. I had never heard this before, but listening to Streets Of Laredo where Jim accompanies himself on guitar (we really do not appreciate how good a guitar player he was), I was struck by the sheer quality of his deep voice, for me the most beautiful sounding voice I have ever heard! There is then a long interview with a Texas disk jockey Bill Mack which I had never heard the full version of before. Amazingly an alternate version of Jim’s classic hit He’ll Have To Go then gets a hearing with a brand new backing! I thought it was absolutely awful and probably the low point ofthe whole release! Then we conclude with Jim’s portion ofthe Oslo concert in Norway, recorded in April 1964, only a few months before his sad death. To this day I can never understand why he never sang He’ll Have To Go there, the record that had made him an international singing star!
To sum up, there is much to enjoy in this monumental attempt to bring new life and success to the wonderful music of Jim Reeves but it certainly won’t please some die hard fans, or those who feel that recordings by artists who have died shou Id be left alone! As the old saying goesyou pays your money, you takes your choice!David Brassington
I can’t confess to be an expert in either Latin or biology, so a quick Google was required to translate the name of this Anglo-Swedish folk band and their eponymous debut album. A famous online encyclopaedia reliably informed me that the Vena Portae is the Latin name for the portal vein, which transports blood to the liver. The band, fronted by singer-songwriter Emily Barker (who regular Maverick readers will be very familiar with as the lead singer ofthe Red Clay Trio), chose the name to reflect their inspiration – “roads, rivers, veins, portals… connections between people, placesand life force.”
The band comprises ofthe aforementioned Barker, an Australian, English songwriter Dom Coyote and Swedish multi-instrumentalist Ruben Engzell. The merging of cultures and musical styles is apparent on the album, which was recorded over the course of 12 days during the winter of 2012 in the small Swedish town of Molnbo. Opening track, Summer Kills, is a gorgeous way to start what is a relaxing and atmospheric album. Barker’s voice is as strong as ever, and works perfectly in harmony with Coyote.
It’s very easy to get lost in the music with this album, especially in the haunting Solitary Wives and Transatlantic. The album is the best part of 45 minutes long, but it never feels like that as you play it through. My personal favourite track is the slightly more up-tempo and fun Flames And Fury, but in all honesty all 11 tracks are impressive and well worth a listen. Chris Beck