JIM REEVES-YOURS SINCERELY, JIM REEVES, BLUE SIDE OF LONESOME, A TOUCH OF SADNESS AND ON STAGE.

JIM REEVES-YOURS SINCERELY, JIM REEVES, BLUE SIDE OF LONESOME, A TOUCH OF SADNESS AND ON STAGE.

Gentleman Jim Reeves was, without doubt, a true legend of country music. He first came to prominence in 1953, when Mexican Joe reached number one on the US Country charts. This was the first of six number one singles Jim Reeves enjoyed. His last number one single came in 1960, when Jim Reeves released He’ll Have To Go. It went on to become a Nashville Sound classic.

Jim Reeves had been at the forefront of the Nashville Sound  movement, and helped popularise this new sound. This was where elements of old style country music were combined with popular music. From the the late fifties until the early sixties, the Nashville Sound was King, and Jim Reeves was one of the most popular practitioners of this new genre. That was until Jim Reeves career was cut tragically short.

This tragedy occurred on Friday, July 31st 1964. Jim Reeves and Dean Manuel, his business partner and manager were due to fly from Batesville, Arkansas to Nashville. They took to the air in a Beechcraft Debonair single-seated aircraft, which Jim Reeves regularly flew. The flight was going to plan until the Jim Reeves encountered a violent thunderstorm over Brentwood, Tennessee. The last that was heard from Jim Reeves was at 4.51pm on Friday, July 31st 1964.What happened next is still disputed. 

Some place the blame on spatial disorientation; while others believe that the plane stalled. Others believe that the rain was the cause of the crash that happened at 4.52pm on Friday, July 31st 1964. The plane had crashed nose first into the ground.

Forty-two hours later, the search party which included country singers Marty Robbins and Ernest Tubb discovered the crash site. When investigators looked in the wreckage, they discovered the bodies of Dean Manuel and Jim Reeves. Gentleman Jim Reeves was declared dead, aged just forty. One of the legends of country music’s career had been cut tragically short.

This wasn’t the end of the Jim Reeves’ story. During a recording career that began in 1953, Gentleman Jim had been a prolific recording artist, recording much more material than he had released. These songs would be released posthumously over a twenty-four years period, right up until 1988. 

By then, forty-four studio albums and one live album bearing Jim Reeves had been released. Four of the earliest albums were Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves, Blue Side Of Lonesome, A Touch Of Sadness and On Stage. They’ve been digitally remastered and reissued by BGO Records. These four albums are posthumous releases that cover the period between 1967 and 1969.

Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves.

Country music was still reeling from the death of Jim Reeves when Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves was released in 1967. He had done so much to broaden the appeal of country music, and introduced the genre to a new and wider audience. Jim Reeves had been at the forefront of the Nashville Sound from the late fifties onwards. The introduction of the Nashville Sound had ensured that country music stayed relevant. However, by the early sixties, change was afoot in country music, the Bakersfield Sound rivalling and replacing the Nashville Sound. It would’ve been interesting to see what direction Jim Reeves’ music would’ve headed in? When Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves was released in 1967, it was an album that looked to Gentleman Jim’s past.

Unlike most Jim Reeves albums that were released posthumously, there was no new material on Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves. Instead, much of side one features snippets of songs, which interspersed with parts of an interview Jim Reeves recorded with a DJ during a trip to Europe in 1964. They give a remarkable insight into Jim Reeves. Very different is Newscast Of 1948. It features snippets of a recording of Jim Reeves during his days as a television announcer. There’s also two almost completed songs recorded during the early years of Gentleman Jim’s career.Then on side two, some songs feature in their entirety. This includes some of Jim Reeves best known songs. That’s no surprise, as Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves was aimed at his large and loyal fan-base.

When Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves was released by RCA Victor in 1967, the album reached number three on the US Country charts. Elsewhere, Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves reached number fifteen in Norway. This was regarded as a commercial success, as Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves wasn’t a traditional album. With its mixture of interviews and music, Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves was aimed at fans of Gentleman Jim, rather than casual record buyers. His next album would Blue Side Of Lonesome surely would appeal to a much wider audience.

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Blue Side Of Lonesome.

The songs what would eventually become Blue Side Of Lonesome, had been recorded at Nashville Sound Studios with producer Chet Atkins.Accompanying Jim Reeves, were his regular backing band The Blue Boys. Ten songs were chosen from that session were chosen by Jim Reeves’ widow Mary Reeves, and became Blue Side Of Lonesome. 

This included two songs penned by Jim Reeves, Crying Is My Favourite Mood and Deep Dark Water. They were joined by Leon Payne’s Blue Side Of Lonesome, Roger Miller’s atch Myself Crying, Jack Clement’s I Know The One, James Joiner’s Seabreeze and Gene Davis’ Won’t Come In While He’s There. Other songs included Henry Martin and Sonny Burnett’s Trying To Forget, Kenny Jacobson and Rhoda Roberts’ Blue Without My Baby and Bobby Ware and Charlie Williams’ Teardrops On The Rocks. These songs would become Blue Side Of Lonesome.

On Blue Side Of Lonesome, Gentleman Jim works his way through ten songs about betrayal, heartbreak, hurt and loneliness. Jim Reeves lives the lyrics, as if he’s experienced the pain in an album that mostly features ballads full heartache. It’s a poignant and moving album, where the late Jim Reeves stayed true to the Nashville Sound. In doing so, this resulted in one of his most successful albums of recent years.

Blue Side Of Lonesome was released as the lead single from the album, and reached number one on the US Country charts, fifty-nine on the US Billboard 100 and reached sixty-eight in the Canadian charts. Buoyed by the success of the lead single, the album was released later in 1967. 

When Blue Side Of Lonesome,was released in 1967, it reached number three on the US Country charts and 185 on the US Billboard 200. That wasn’t the end of the success.

I Won’t Come In While He’s There was the second single released from Blue Side Of Lonesome. It reached number one on the US Country charts. Elsewhere, the single reached number twelve in Britain, seven in Norway and eleven in Eire. The only disappointment was when the third single Trying To Forget, failed to chart in America. However, it reached number thirty-three in Britain. Overall though, Blue Side Of Lonesome had been a massive success. Two number one singles in the US Country charts, and a number three in the US Country album charts was proof of this. The sad thing was that Gentleman Jim wasn’t around to enjoy this success.

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A Touch Of Sadness.

So it was fitting that in 1968, the latest posthumous album of Jim Reeves songs was entitled A Touch Of Sadness. It featured another eleven songs from RCA Victor’s vaults. Again, these songs were chosen by Mary Reeves, the widow of Jim Reeves. She had curated Blue Side Of Lonesome, which was one of the most successful Jim Reeves of recent years. She began choosing the songs for A Touch Of Sadness.

Among the eleven songs, were the Jim Reeves’ penned You Kept Me Awake Last Night and I’m Glad You’re Better. Jim Reeves also cowrote three other songs, including Your Wedding with Re Winkler and Honey and Won’t You Please Come Home? with Luke McDaniel. The third song Jim Reeves cowrote, was When Your Are Gone with Dean Manuel. He was Jim Reeves’ business partner, manager and was also a member of Gentleman Jim’s backing band, The Blue Boys. Dean Manuel had also perished in the plane crash in 1964. Four years later, When Your Are Gone was about to feature on a Jim Reeves album.

So would covers of Carl Belew’s Where Do I Go to Throw a Picture Away; Gilbert Gibson’s I’m Crying Again; Eddie Pleasant’s Lonesome Waltz and Johnny Russell’s In a Mansion Stands My Love. They were joined by Joe Burke, Benny Davis and Mark Fisher’s Oh, How I Miss You Tonight plus Dale Noe and Red Sovine’s Missing You. These tracks would become A Touch Of Sadness.

Just like on the Blue Side Of Lonesome, Jim Reeves works his way through eleven songs about betrayal, heartbreak, hurt, loneliness and love lost on A Touch Of Sadness. Again, Jim Reeves lives the lyrics, as if he’s experienced the pain and hurt. The majority of the songs are ballads, where Gentleman Jim lays bare his hurt and heartache. That’s apart from Lonesome Waltz and In a Mansion Stands My Love. Still, though, A Touch Of Sadness is a poignant and moving album, where balladry is to the fore as Jim Reeves says true to his beloved Nashville Sound. This resulted in another successful album.

When A Touch Of Sadness was released later in 1968, it reached number three on the US Country charts. The lead single was When Your Are Gone. Not only did it reach number seven on the US Country charts, but number one on on the Canadian Country charts. There was no sign of Jim Reeves’ popularity waning even four years after his untimely death. So in 1969, RCA Victor decided to release a live album, On Stage.

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Jim Reeves On Stage.

Never before had a live album been released bearing Jim Reeves’ name. A number of live recordings existed. However, when it came to choose just the one concert, RCA Victor eschewed the obvious. Rather than choosing a recording of Jim Reeves playing at one of the larger, sold out shows, a recording of a concert ar much more intimate venue was chosen for Jim Reeves On Stage.

The concert had taken place in a small park, on a mountain in Pennsylvania. Before and during the concert, the rain poured down. This didn’t bother Jim Reeves and The Blue Boys. Even when they had to leave the tour bus, and walk up the mountainside carrying their instruments. This was the case throughout the day, as Jim Reeves who was one of the biggest names in country music prepared for his show. That night, Jim Reeves and The Blue Boys worked their way through twenty songs, including three medleys.

That night, Jim Reeves and The Blue Boys pulled out all the stops, as they worked their way through familiar songs that included standards and country classics. Having opened the show with the a medley of Mexican Joe and Yonder Comes A Sucker, Jim Reeves and The Blue Boy head towards the second medley. It consisted of Four Walls, I Missed Me, Tennessee Waltz, I Really Don’t Want To Know and He’ll Have To Go, which was one of Gentleman Jim’s classic songs. This whets the audience’s appetite for the third medley.

It opens with Walking The Floor Over You, and Jim Reeves the consummate professional works his way through There Stands The Glass, One By One, Guess Things Happen That Way and I Want To Be With You Always. Despite the inclement weather, Jim Reeves and The Blue Boys give nothing less than 100%. That’s the case from Wildwood Flower, to The Blizzard, Your Old Love Letters, Am I Losing You, Bimbo, Stand At Your Window and a cover of the oft-covered standard Danny Boy. With that, the man that Jim Reeves and The Blue Boys’ left the stage. Little did they know by the time that the recording had been released as On Stage in 1969, five years would’ve passed since Jim Reeves’ death.

Jim Reeves On Stage was released in 1969, and reached a very credible five in the US Country charts. Often, live albums don’t enjoy the same commercial success as studio albums. Especially in country music. However, Jim Reeves On Stage bucked the trend, maybe because Gentleman Jim’s many fans wanted a reminder of what he was like live? The album certainly was a reminder of a truly talented singer-songwriter, whose career was cut tragically short.

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Despite that, forty-four studio albums and one live album were released bearing Jim Reeves’ name. The majority of these albums were released posthumously. Some of these albums vary in quality. This makes separating the wheat from the chaff something a crapshoot. 

A good place to start is BGO Records’ recently released four albums on two CD set. This includes Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves, Blue Side Of Lonesome, A Touch Of Sadness and On Stage, which were released between 1967 and 1969. These albums have been digitally remastered and the sound quality is stunning. For a newcomer to one of the most important figures in country music, this is the perfect starting place.

Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves with its mixture of music and dialogue offers a remarkable insight into Gentleman Jim. Blue Side Of Lonesome and A Touch Of Sadness were curated by Mary Reeves, Jim’s widow. She compiled two poignant and moving albums. They featured songs about betrayal, heartbreak, hurt and loneliness. Jim Reeves lived the lyrics, as if he’s experienced the pain and heartache. These two poignant and moving albums feature Jim Reeves as he lays bare his soul. Then Jim Reeves On Stage, is a reminder of a man who was one of the great entertainers of his generation. He appealed not just to fans of country music, but popular music. That was no surprise.

Jim Reeves had been at the forefront of the Nashville Sound  movement, and helped popularise this new sound. It was a combination of old style country music and popular music. This new musical genre was popular from the the late fifties until Jim Reeves career was cut tragically short on Friday, July 31st 1964. 

That day, music lost a truly talented singer and songwriter, Gentleman Jim Reeves. He was just forty years old. Who knows what direction Jim Reeves’ career would’ve headed, or what heights he might have reached? However, Jim Reeves left behind a rich musical legacy. His music continues to find a new audience, even fifty-two years after the tragic, and untimely death. Gentleman Jim Reeves will forever remain a true legend of country music, and one of the finest and most popular practitioners of the Nashville Sound.

JIM REEVES-YOURS SINCERELY, JIM REEVES, BLUE SIDE OF LONESOME, A TOUCH OF SADNESS AND ON STAGE.

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