Sunday, November 1, 2015
CHARLIE RICH - 25 ALL-TIME GREATEST HITS
A strong compilation that covers the hit years Rich spent with Epic Records, from 1967 to 1977. That includes all the biggies he's known for, including Behind Closed Doors, The Most Beautiful Girl, A Very Special Love Song, and Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High). Although working as a country artist, there was so much sophistication (and a little jazz) that these crossed over in a big way, giving him major pop hits as well.
Produced and sometimes written by Nashville heavyweight Billy Sherrill, he took the journeyman Rich, who had drifted through a decade of little fame, and gave him a countrypolitan makeover. The material was romantic, and in the songs, Rich became the guy whose only lucky break in life was somehow attracting the best woman in the world, who loved him no matter what. There are plenty of other cuts here that didn't storm the pop charts, but continued the theme as country hits. My Elusive Dream went to #3 in 1975, a weeper about a guy who can't pin down a good job his whole life, and the woman who goes with him from town to town.
The subject matter is a little tired (and a little more sexist), but what makes these cuts still special is Rich's charm and voice, the Silver Fox indeed. Apparently he wasn't far from these characters in real life, so he knew how to turn on the charm naturally. These piano ballads were something different for country (and pop) as well, and for a time, Rich was a major star. It's too bad they didn't go back and license a couple of his early tunes, especially his 1960 rockabilly hit for Sun Records, Lonely Weekends, or the fun rocker from '65, Mohair Sam. Then they could have dumped the mawkish America the Beautiful and the lounge classic Spanish Eyes, making this even better.