Jim Reeves, He’ll Have To Go- Live From The Grand Ol Opry

Kurt Wolff

By Kurt Wolff

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Jim Reeves was a key figure in the early days of the Nashville Sound, the lush, smoothed-out style (also known as "countrypolitan") that swept Music City during the '50s and '60s — a reaction of sorts to the raw, rough edges of rock & roll. From today's perspective, though, Reeves 'career divides into two distinct halves: straightforward honky-tonker (with a catalogue of up-tempo titles like "Yonder Comes a Sucker" and "Red Eyed and Rowdy") and pop-country crooner. The latter is the Reeves most people know, thanks to a voice as velvety-smooth as any in country music, which he wrapped deliciously around weepers such as "Just Call Me Lonesome," "Four Walls" and especially "He'll Have to Go," his career-making signature song. These Eisenhower-era live recordings from the Grand Ole Opry are actually a great introduction to Reeves 'music, as they straddle both sides of his career. Songs like "Mexican Joe," "Bimbo" and "Yonder Comes a Sucker" are lively and energetic; the unadorned arrangements also help to enhance the simple beauty of Reeves 'singing on slow, creamy ballads like "Have I Told You Lately that I Love You" and "He'll Have to Go." This is vintage Reeves, and considering these recordings are nearly a half-century old (Reeves died in 1964), the sound quality is surprisingly clean and warm.