Jimmie Spheeris

Ports of the Heart

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Jimmie Spheeris fans owe a major debt of gratitude to Andy Markley, a graphic artist who was among the singer/songwriter's friends. In 1996, Markley created an Internet website called The Jimmie Spheeris Memorial Gallery, which posed the question "Anybody remember Jimmie?"-and it turned out that a lot of people did. Markley was pleasantly surprised when thousands of people from different parts of the world visited the site-Spheeris was hardly a superstar, but the people who were hip to his music were incredibly passionate about it. One of the Spheeris fans who checked out the site was Ken Onstad, president of K-Tel Records. Seeing that there was still a demand for Spheeris' recordings, Onstad hoped to see them back in print-and with Sony's permission, Rain/K-Tel reissued all of Spheeris' Epic titles on CD in the late 1990s. One of those reissues was Ports of the Heart, which originally came out in 1976. Produced by David Campbell, Ports was Spheeris' fourth and final album for Epic. Commercially, Spheeris wasn't where he deserved to be in 1976, but creatively, he was on a roll. The L.A. native incorporates a variety of influences on this album, including jazz, folk and country. In fact, jazzmen Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke (both original members of the fusion powerhouse Return to Forever) are among the guests. This time, Spheeris doesn't embrace original material exclusively; though his own songs dominate the album, he pleasantly surprises us by interpreting Tommy Edwards' 1950s hit "It's All in the Game" (whose melody goes back to 1912) and Hank Williams' country favorite "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." But this is a pop-rock album first and foremost, and its contemplative, poetic leanings are pure Spheeris.

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