Charlie Rich

The Silver Fox

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Charlie Rich's runaway success with "Behind Closed Doors" and "The Most Beautiful Girl" prompted media attention he could never have anticipated. Given that by the early '70s Rich had been in the business almost 20 years and had sold some records, nothing could have prepared him for what happened. The Silver Fox is an unprecedented album by a country and pop singer. Issued in 1974, it features a sidelong medley of Rich talking about his musical development and playing -- along with a host of Nashville's finest and producer Billy Sherrill -- examples indicative of his journey: a classical rondo, a steaming version of "Don't Put No Headstone on My Grave," a swing instrumental, a stomping version of his Sun Records classic "Break Up," the previously released version of "Behind Closed Doors," and one of his most undeniable classics, "I Feel Like Goin' Home." Not as stirring as the version on Pictures and Paintings with the Memphis gospel choir, but with the Nashville Edition he pulls off a stunner that raises goosebumps; it can bring tears to the most hardened eyes. The flip side is filled with inspired covers of songs written by Sherrill and others, but the most notable tracks are Rich's own "Your Place Is Here With Me," with its Ray Charles-inspired gospel and blues swing, and "Whatever Happened," composed by Rich's wife, Margaret Ann. A sweet and lilting country ballad, it evokes nostalgia, bittersweet regret, and glimpses of time's passage. Laden with Sherrill's trademark string arrangements, a backing chorus, and Hargus Robins' honky tonk piano, in Rich's baritone, the tune becomes a gentle elegy of disappearance of innocence and first love. This is one of, if not the, finest of Rich's '70s recordings.

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