The world of country music recently marked the 50th anniversary of the passing of Patsy Cline. Though her 1963 death silenced one of America's most beloved performers, her music continues to thrive. The just-released "The Divine Ms. Cline: Patsy's Finest Vocals In New Musical Settings" contains twenty of her classic recordings with new instrumentation and vocal accompaniment.
Produced by Larry Jordan, the set gives new life to such Cline recordings as "Why Can't He Be You," "Leavin' On Your Mind," and "South Of The Border." Among the musicians on the new accompanying tracks include Kenzie Wetz, Pat Severs, and Terry Franklin.
"I thought it was appropriate when I saw that a couple of other labels were just doing repackages of the same material," Jordan told Billboard. With a long history of success producing similar material over the past decade, Jordan was excited to tackle the musical legacy of Cline. "I thought I could do something similar with Patsy. Everything was done with the utmost respect for the original recordings."
Possibly the jewel of the release is a stunning version of "So Wrong," which features some nice saxophone work from Craig Swift. Also included are updated versions of such standards as "Crazy" and "I Fall To Pieces," which features harmony work from Franklin. "Terry is an alumnus of the Gaither Vocal Band. The term is used very loosely, but he is a musical genius," Jordan said. The set closes with six live tracks from the Country Music Hall of Famer, with a truly emotional take on "She's Got You" being the highlight. Hearing the live Cline is something very special – and in this case, very rare. "With one exception, the live tracks are being released for the first time," says Jordan. "There were some recordings that had never been used from military transcriptions. I sent them to David Lawrence, a retired engineer in Tuscon, and between the two of us, we have came up with a way to deal with these old tracks in getting rid of the pops and hiss. We just kept working on it until we got it." Also included is a track of "Tennessee Waltz" that she never recorded for Decca.
In addition to his work on the Cline project, Jordan continues to keep the musical legacy of Jim Reeves alive, as well. He penned the definitive Jim Reeves: His Untold Story in 2011, and also is the mastermind behind a new 2-disc set entitled "Jim Reeves: The New Recordings." While there are 20 new overdubs of Reeves' RCA masters, the true find of the set is unreleased audio interviews with the Texas native, who perished in July 1964. For fans who know only his musical recordings, hearing his voice is truly something very unique.
"There had been an album released when Mary was alive called Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves (issued by RCA Victor in 1966) where he had told his life story, but this set contains new interview footage that fans have never heard before, including rare footage of him reading the news at KGRI – his very first radio job in Henderson, TX," Jordan says.
Jordan says being the keeper of the flame regarding these artists has been very rewarding. "It gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction to take these artists and update their sound. We've brought their voices forward. I feel like I am exposing these artists vocal talents to a generation that may be hearing them for the first time. A friend of mine told me about hearing some of them in Thailand on a cab ride," he said.