Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. We are digging into the stacks, today, to pull out today’s classic album, a 1964 release from the legendary Jim Reeves. Quite possibly country music’s greatest crooner, Jim possessed a rich, warm, relaxed style that was perfect for the smoother strains of The Nashville Sound, that was a large part of 1960’s country music. I do not know who first used “velvet” to describe his vocals, but a more appropriate word to describe his vocals, you will not find. Moonlight And Roses was released in late spring, 1964; it would be the last album of new music released before his death in July. Though no hit singles came from this album, the album did peak at number one on the country bestseller list.
Opening up the disc, is Jim’s version of “Moonlight And Roses”. While it contains a bit of tempo, this is still a relaxed, smooth, easy-on-the-ear track that quickly confirms Jim’s standing among great country crooners, which is among the best, ever.
Jim also handles the Gene Autry classic, “Mexicali Rose” with ease, making it seem as if it was written specifically for him.
Jim’s take on the old-time classic “Carolina Moon” is okay, though I think it was keyed a little higher than I liked. I think it would been a bit better, just a bit lower.
“Rosa Rio” may be the best track on this side. Perfect for Jim’s smooth stylings, the western feel is retained, despite the easy listening-styled, lush arrangement.
“Oh What It Seemed To Be” is another outstanding recording by “The Voice of Velvet”. Arguably one of his best performances on album, is this track. Jim at his best. Unfortunately, the muted trumpets get a bit annoying during this track. I think it would have been even better, had they left them off.
Despite Jim’s typically outstanding vocal work, along with the top notch arrangement and production, “What’s In It For Me” fails to evoke any real emotion or response, rather coming off as a bland piece of music, that is quickly forgotten when finished. Sometimes, even a great vocalist is not enough to save a weak composition.
With side one completed, we turn our attention to side two, which opens with the track “Roses”. Despite having been written by Tim Spencer of The Sons Of The Pioneers fame, I’ve not previously heard this ballad, until this album. Well worth the wait, though, as this is a beautiful piece of music. Of course, Jim’s vocals are stellar, but on this track, I think it’s the arrangement that makes the recording. Utilizing a tempo and arrangement that is reminiscent of a late 1950’s top forty ballad, everything falls into perfect order on this track, making for what may well be the Standout Track of the disc.
Almost as good is “One Dozen Roses”. Light, airy, and bouncy, it’s an infectious track that is simply enjoyable to listen to.
Nobody sings “Moon River” any better than Andy Williams. That being said, Jim’s version is one of the best of the rest. The arrangement is not quite as lush as the Williams version, yet it retains the intimacy that this song demands. Kudos for a great effort on this track.
From Andy Williams, Jim glides to a Tex Ritter favorite, “There’s A New Moon Over My Shoulder”. As expected, Jim’s vocals have nothing negative to be found, yet as a whole, this track actually fails to impress, and I’m not sure why. I think it’s because the arrangement is too lush for this song. I really think this song works better with the more western-styled backing heard on Ritter’s original.
On the other hand, Jim’s version of the old favorite “It’s Only A Paper Moon” is an ear-catcher. A nice, light, bouncy arrangement complements Jim’s easy vocals on what has to rate as one of the album’s better tracks.
For the finale, Jim takes on the Irving Berlin penned “When I Lost You”. A near perfect vehicle for Jim’s velvety voice, this nugget is a perfect end to what, overall, is a very pleasing and soothing listening experience.
Besides it’s original vinyl release, it has been on CD (both solo and as part of a package with The Jim Reeves Way. It also saw life on 8-track tape, as well.
A good, solid effort, is this collection of songs about moonlight and roses. Song quality varies, just a bit, but the production and vocals are typical Jim Reeves quality. This is an album that I’m sure was well received by his fans, yet, if I were introducing Jim’s music to someone, it’s not the album that’s going to grab their attention, despite Jim’s performance. The overall product is a bit disappointing, as I feel like it’s good, but not quite as good as I expected. I’ve been sitting here, trying to put my finger on what I think is missing from this disc; it’s the “wow” factor. It’s a nice album to listen to, but not one that will likely make one shake their head in amazement, unlike some of his other works. Thoughts?
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, 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 convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.