Jim Reeves

Precious Memories: 30 Gospel Favorites

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The mail-order company Heartland Music assembled this excellent two-disc anthology of gospel performances by the late, great Jim Reeves, with an assortment of classic hymns, traditional spirituals, and newly composed songs. Practically every country star of note recorded religious songs in the '50s and '60s, and MOR vocalists like Reeves and Eddy Arnold who were not strongly associated with honky tonk themes had a particularly eager audience for such material. The country-pop production of Reeves' gospel sides is far more pop than country, presumably to achieve the broadest possible appeal. Reeves sings with an almost impossibly easy grace, soothing his listeners with a mixture of familiar and uncommon songs of faith. There is quite a bit of variety, from the Tex-Mex story-song "Padre of Old San Antone" to the churchly piano-and-choir treatment of "God Be With You." Most of the cuts are studio recordings from Reeves' years at RCA, but four are live recordings from the Grand Ole Opry that have a more traditional Southern gospel sound; these performances are a real treat, inspiring images of old-time tent revivals. Precious Memories is a boon to gospel music lovers and also serves as a supplement to any of Reeves' existing greatest-hits collections.

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