Today’s Classic Album Review is a 1966 release from fellow Hoosier Bobby Helms. In 1957, Bobby burst onto the scene with two big hits, “Fraulein” and “My Special Angel”. Both would spend 4 weeks on top of the Country charts. They also appearing in the Pop Top 40, where “My Special Angel” would climb into the top ten. 1957 was also the year of his classic “Jingle Bell Rock”. Bobby would have two more top ten hits in 1958, but after 1960, would never return into the Billboard Country 40. By 1966, he had left Decca Records (the home of his success), for Kapp Records. At Kapp, he would release one album and a handful of singles, but resulting in no real hits. That one Kapp LP is the focus of today’s Classic Album Review.
Released in January, I’m The Man featured only one single release, the title track. It failed to chart. The title track, released towards the end of 1965, is one of the album’s highlights. Good, pure country music that should have at least made the Country 40.
Next, Bobby tackles the Lolita pop hit, “Sailor (Your Home Is the Sea)”, in English, of course. Not a bad track, he handles it well, of course with a much stronger pop sound than the opening cut.
“Stop the World and Let Me Off” was a 1958 hit for Johnny And Jack. Here, Bobby gives it a completely different take, turning it into a slower ballad. While I still like the quicker versions, this comes off very well.
One of the album’s best track is “Ten Thousand Tears”. Someone at Kapp missed a potential single, here. Good beat, contemporary (for 1966) sound, good strong song. I really like this one.
“Marie, Marie” is an okay ballad. A typical love song from a soldier to his love back home. Not bad, but not anything special. Like pretty much all the cuts, though, Bobby Helms’ work is fine.
Side one ends with a more Pop sounding “Lollipops and Roses”, which sounds more like a 1950’s Top 40 ballad. Again, a track that is okay, but not anything special; it sounds a little dated, even for 1966. Not the strongest composition on the album, either.
Side two opens with an interesting take on the Buck Owens hit “Act Naturally”. Bobby handles this track well. It sounds, though, like they are reaching the upper limits of Bobby Helms’ range.
Another track that I like, here, is “Keep ‘Em Laughin'”, a track that is country at its best. Surprising that no one ever turned this song into a hit single. Bobby’s version would have made a good single release.
Next, Bobby takes on former label-mate Brenda Lee’s hit, “Fool No. 1”, and does so well. Utilizing a quicker pace than Brenda’s version, it features some excellent fiddle work. You have to feel, when hearing this, that Kapp may have missed a potential single.
“Twin of An Angel” keeps the solid Country music flowing, here. It’s a track that’s not the album’s strongest, but still a quality piece, and enjoyable to listen to. Again, great vocals by Bobby Helms.
“Have This Love on Me” has a little bit more Pop feel, but I like this one, as it has a great rhythm and melody. Decent work, here.
The album’s closing track is another piece that deserves recognition for good music. “I Close My Eyes (And See It All)” is yet another track that I’d argue could have been a decent single. Good beat, mixed with some solid fiddle work, this is a stellar closing track, ending the album on a rather high note.
Overall, this is a good effort that never got much acclaim. Unfortunately, by the mid-1960’s, Bobby had long faded from chart success. Despite continuing to record, he was never able to recreate that period of the late fifties. Yet, this album shows that Bobby Helms still had the ability, and one must wonder why it wasn’t more successful. For that matter, why wasn’t the single more successful? Lack of promotion? Changing audience tastes? Either way, it’s good music buried for too many years.
MORE GREAT CLASSIC ALBUMS TO ENJOY!
About Thy Author
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He actually convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina, including his current gig. He hosts the weekly World Famous Ultimate Twang Radio Show. You can listen Thursdays, 4-7p ET on WSFM-LPFM/AshevilleFM, at 103.3 FM in Asheville, North Carolina, and online at ashevillefm.org. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.