Jim Reeves

Girls I Have Known

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Girls I Have Known was only Jim Reeves' second album for RCA, but it was his first recording aimed directly at the mainstream pop audience -- in assembling the songs for the concept album, Reeves deliberately selected compositions from the pop music canon of the previous two decades, reaching out to Irving Berlin and "Marie" (best known in Tommy Dorsey's rendition), the Nat King Cole standard "Mona Lisa," and even Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene." Then he and producer Chet Atkins aimed the sound of the record toward the pop audience, the most rustic sides of the usual country accompaniment suppressed if not entirely banished (with a Hank Garland solo on "Marie" that's almost more rock & roll than Nashville). Reeves' vocalizing here is quietly lush and seductive, his richness of tone flowing out like a river of molten gold around a restrained, elegant accompaniment on "Charmaine," or taking on a lighter, brighter caste in the bouncy "Margie," supported by the equally nimble and nicely restrained mixed chorus. Whether it's pop or country, it's all delightful, and of immense importance in the history of country music -- this was one of the very first countrypolitan recordings, utilizing a sophisticated sound that was closer to pop music than to anything previously identified as country music, and the album and its success went a long way toward moving country music into the mainstream and, in turn, pulling mainstream audiences toward country music. And it still holds up stunningly well five decades later.

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