Classic Album Review-Jim Reeves “Am I That Easy To Forget”
Greetings from Asheville, where the garden’s growing and there’s always good music on the turntable, in the CD, or the MP3. With yesterday’s post looking at Del Reeves’ tribute to Jim Reeves, I thought today to be a good day for a look at one of Jim’s long-playing efforts. In case you don’t know about Jim, he possessed an incredibly smooth voice, in fact, he was dubbed “The Voice Of Velvet”. I think he is one of the greatest vocalists in music history, no matter the genre. The incredible vocals, the impeccable enunciation, mixed with some stellar production from Chet Atkins. Yes, the majority of his hits were in the lush “Nashville Sound” style, but in most cases, I believe that was the best arrangement for his vocals, though some of his early traditional sounds are pretty awesome, as well, I must admit. His music career began after a leg injury ended his pro baseball career (he was a minor leaguer), and in 1953, he scored his first hit, “Mexican Joe”. In all, Jim would score seventy-three top forty singles, including fifty-one top ten hits and eleven number one hits. What may be most remarkable about his numbers, though, is that twenty-eight of the top forty hits; nineteen top ten hits, and six number ones came after his 1964 death in a plane crash. As for albums, at least sixty have been released through either RCA Victor or RCA Camden since 1956, of which twenty-one climbed into the top twenty, twelve into the top ten, and four all the way to number one. And again, almost all of those numbers came after his death. Today’s featured album falls into that category, as well. “Am I That Easy To Forget” was the fortieth album to come from one of RCA’s labels, having been released in May, 1973. It would peak just outside the top ten, stopping at eleven, and the title cut would be the only single from the album, again, just missing the top ten, stopping at twelve.
The title cut kicks things off, and gives you an almost immediate example of what I just mentioned about his vocals. Incredible is the best description, and mixed with a strong composition, the result is, as Dick Vitale might say, “Awesome, Baby!”
“Welcome To My World” was a big 1964 hit for Jim, and in my book, one of his best. The version, here, is the full orchestral arrangement; very lush, nice sounding, I must say, a beautiful arrangement, but I have to admit, I actually like the stripped down version, a little better. I think that one gives a little more spotlight to his incredible vocals. But hey, that’s nit-picking.
The third hit that is on this album, is his 1965 hit, “This Is It”. Though it was a number one hit, I think it’s a song that tends to get overlooked when his music is talked about. Granted, with a catalog that includes tunes like “He’ll Have To Go”, “Four Walls”, and “Distant Drums”, it’s understandable how that can happen. But it’s a shame, because this is such a great song. I had never heard it, until I got a 45 rpm copy of it, over twenty years ago. I was blown away then, I’m blown away now, listening to it.
Next on the track lineup is “Heartbreak In Silhouette”. A bit of a south-of-the-border sound with the beat and trumpets. I’m liking this track, very good vocals (no surprise, there), and a great arrangement by Chet Atkins and Jerry Bradley. This one is a strong Hidden Gem contender.
“Deep Dark Water” is a mid tempo track that I’m wondering if Jim’s vocals might have been recorded before the other tracks on this side, due to the differences in sound quality. A quality composition, that I think works well, with Jim’s voice, and a sound that’s a bit different than the others, giving us a little more variety.
Side two opens with “Rosa Rio”, a track that first appeared on Jim’s 1964 album, “Moonlight And Roses”. When I reviewed that album, I mentioned that it was a perfect song for Jim’s vocal style. In fact, for that album, it was our Hidden Gem.
I first heard the song “No One To Cry To”, about twenty-five to thirty years ago; whatever year it was when I was given “The Best Of The Sons Of The Pioneers” album, one Christmas. I love the Pioneers version, with the smooth styling of Bob Nolan and the crew. Here, we get a vocal just as smooth, but with a more lush production. That production teeters on going overboard, but I think it just does keep from doing so. Still, I think a little less strings wouldn’t have hurt.
Okay, I think we can say, safely, what this album’s Hidden Gem is, “After Awhile”. Jim, with a minimal arrangement and some backing vocals. His vocals really shine, here. In fact, I think it could be argued that this is one of his best-ever performances. Unbelievable! And the song, itself, is outstanding. What a great all-around recording.
“I Care No More” was originally hear on his 1957 self-titled album. This is Jim in the transition of his style from traditional to the smoother styles. The arrangement really sounds like something you might have heard on a slower Elvis record of the era. Not as strong as the previous track, this is still a good ballad; a great intimate feeling to it. I like this one.
We get a swinging finale with “The Search Is Ended”. Not as strong as several of the other tracks, but a decent track, that gives a nice ending to a good album.
No longer in print, I found several used copies for sale, online, most going for between $5 and $25. The used copies were mainly vinyl, but I did run across a couple of 8-tracks.
“Am I That Easy To Forget” gets the nod for the Standout Track, while as mentioned, “After Awhile” is the Hidden Gem. There really isn’t a Weakest Track, here, as even the lowest of this album I’d still rate as good.
Overall, a really good presentation of Jim Reeves; credit to whoever selected the music. The one thing that can happen on some of Jim’s albums, is that after a few songs, everything tends to start sounding the same, but that’s not an issue on this disc. There is a nice variety of style and songs, all tied in with the incredibly smooth voice of the great Jim Reeves. I rate this one a solid 4 out of 5.
THIS ISN’T OUR 1ST REVIEW OF JIM’S LP’S, CHECK THESE OUT
Though this LP is out of print, here’s a 2-fer combination that I recommend. Just click below.