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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Essential Jim Reeves
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD
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 hyperbolium dot com]
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Please note this is a re-issue of the earlier Anthology double CD with different title and packaging but an identical track listing. Unlike, the original set, this one has been given a British release although (as I'll explain later), Brits may notice that some of Jim's biggest UK hits are missing.

Jim's hit career was more complicated than most, because he had different hits in different countries. So, depending on which country you live in, the tracks you regard as essential will vary. This particular collection appears to be the definitive American hits collection, beginning with his earliest hillbilly music (the first eight tracks) and ending with the pop crossover music that everybody remembers him for (the remaining thirty two tracks). Of course, Jim had far more than forty hits so plenty of minor hits are missing but all of Jim's big American country and pop hits are here.

Everybody has their own favorites, but here you will find Distant drums, He'll have to go, I won't come in while he's there, I guess I'm crazy, Snowflake, Welcome to my world, Adios Amigo, Is it really over, This is it, Blue side of lonesome, Bimbo, Mexican Joe, Yonder comes a sucker and so much more. Eighteen of the twenty tracks from an earlier compilation also titled Essential Jim Reeves (the best American single CD compilation) are here, the exceptions being I love you because (a minor American hit) and Suppertime (not a hit in America).

Brits and expatriate Brits thinking of buying this collection should note the omission of three UK top ten hits (There's a heartache following me, I love you because, It hurts so much) and three other UK top twenty hits (You're the only good thing, Not until the next time, But you love me daddy). If you are looking for these tracks, you'll find them on a compilation made for the British market. This compilation was originally released for the American market so there is no reason for any of these songs to be included here.

Some songs turn up regularly on Jim Reeves compilations but others are occasional visitors. I was particularly pleased that they included Love is no excuse, a duet with Dottie West. Dottie was struggling for recognition until Jim persuaded RCA to sign her. She stayed with RCA for fourteen years so it was clearly good for all concerned but might have been even better. Love is no excuse, together with its B-side, was intended to be the primer for an album of duets. The rest of the album was never recorded because Jim died in a plane crash while the single was in the country top ten. It must have been particularly hard for Dottie to come to terms with as she had lost another friend (Patsy Cline) the year before in a different plane crash.

For American fans of Jim Reeves, this is the definitive hits collection. For Jim's British fans, here's a chance to get some classic songs that don't get released very often in Britain as well as some very familiar songs.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Ignore the first seven tracks on Disc One. They are early, mostly "novelty" songs which have no enduring quality. Beginning with Jim's cover of "Waitin' for a Train" one begins to understand how Mr. Reeves went from playing other people's songs on the radio to selling many millions of records world-wide before his early death in the '60's. I was a mid-teen when "He'll Have to Go" made the charts four days after my birthday in December of '59. I developed a love for deeper male voices, and discovered Paul Robeson, Cisco Houston, Leon Bibb, Lee Hays of the Weavers, and several others that same year. There are a lot of songs about troubled love affairs on this collection, and no one in the Reeves hit era (Spring '57-summer '64) did them smoother or with more conviction. For years after his death, singles that had been unreleased or were remixed made the pop or country charts as well. Lots of tragically killed singers had a hit or two put out by his or her old label, but I doubt anyone had a longer run of post-death 45-rpm singles than Jim. Even when Elvis died, his estate's real money came from album compilations. Reeves voice and style either really pleases you, or it doesn't. I also "lost" Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, Johnny Horton, Patsy Cline, Cisco Houston, Woody Guthrie, Eddie Cochran, Paul Robeson and others to death during the eight-year period between age 13 and 21. Thanks to the recording industry, I can still hear their best work today, and I enjoy them. Mr. Reeves has good company on my CD shelf, but he is not the least of those at all.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2008
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Oh my. I have never owned a Jim Reeves recording before and this tops all my other music. What an absolutely beautiful, smooth voice. Every song he sings is wonderful. This collection is perfect and I can't believe I lived 55 years without him in my house! I will spend the next 55 listening to this CD! Wonderful!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2008
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I was born in the early 50's and, as a toddler, actually remember "Bimbo" being played somewhere/sometime - it must have been on the radio or at someone's house, but I honestly do recall hearing it. It was oddly familiar and surprising to recently listen to and appreciate a song I barely remembered after fifty plus years. Anyway, rather than digress about childhood memories, let me just say that hearing Gentleman Jim Reeves in depth and at long last is truly like being exposed to a fine wine produced from the best soil on earth.

Pardon this cliché, but, like most of us, I grew up appreciating the great rock/pop artists during the sixties and missed the boat on Gentleman Jim until NOW. I am forever hooked. There are really great artists and great music, of which I just wasn't aware as a younger person. That wasn't necessarily my fault when I was only 10 years old. Now I'm so grateful to have the means and opportunity to delve into other music genres and recording artists from the past several decades. Mr. Reeves is the compliment and corresponding person to Patsy Cline or vise versa, who ironically was also taken too young in a tragic airplane accident.

I just bought this CD, plus the 12 Songs of Christmas, which I will give to my wife for Christmas, and All Time Gospel Favorites - the Encore Collection, which I am eagerly looking forward to appreciating. My children like his music, too. We all know the words to "Yonder Comes a Sucker" and have fun singing it in our car. It's cool to be able to introduce this great music to your children when they are young and receptive.

You'll never tire from this no-nonsense music. These productions are simply eloquent and never become passé. Mr. Reeves' music is perfect for soothing your home environment or just plain relaxation during, say, an evening road trip. I love music. It is really a wonderful form of energy and expression and Mr. Reeves did it so well. Thank you for these captivating recordings and the nice remastering job that went into this package. What's equally amazing is to consider the amount of time, work and effort that went into these recordings - from writing, to recording, to marketing, to remastering - and to think that we can all just sit back and listen to this music in the comfort of our homes for less than $20.00. Seems we often take these treasured gifts for granted.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This cd has a lot of the hits that made Jim Reeves a household name. No one croons a love song like he does. If you like Jim Reeves you will love this compilation of music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Smooth sound -- smooth voice -- some digital copies of older songs have a tinny sound or are distorted -- this is not -- great CD
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I grew up listening to Jim Reeves and love listening to these old songs again. Wonderful CD
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This man has a special voice all his own. A Eddy Arnold he is NOT,never was.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Jim Reeves has a voice that is timeless. If you heard him speak, you'd turn around just to see where that voice originated. Some of his songs are elevator-style, relaxing and noninvasive. But other songs make you laugh, like Yonder Comes a Sucker. The best toe-tapper I've heard is Billy Bayou. Most of the music is about romance, and most of the romance is about LOSING it rather than FINDING it. The compilation is nostalgic in tenor but up to date in quality.
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