Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Worst of Jim Reeves

Welcome, friends, to the 250th blog post from the World's Worst Records .

James Travis Reeves is rightly revered as a country music legend. A purveyor of the Nashville sound, thanks partly to his association with guitarist and producer Chet Atkins, Jim Reeves scored his debut hit in 1953 and managed more than 30 chart singles in the United States – including the standards He’ll Have to Go and Welcome to my World - before tragedy struck a little over a decade later.

His life ended ridiculously early – three weeks before his 41st birthday in July 1964 – when the plane he was piloting (and which also carried his manager Dean Manuel) was caught in a violent thunderstorm. The single-engine plane stalled, went into a tailspin and crashed, killing both occupants.

But death was not the end of Reeves’ career: he was signed to RCA, a company who have never let the death of an act bother them. Jim left a massive backlog of unreleased music – something like 80 tracks from rough demos to finished sessions and, between 1965 and 1984, he landed even more chart smashes than he had during his life. His posthumous UK Number One Distant Drums became his biggest international hit and the best selling single of his career. 

Thanks to RCA - and to his widow Mary (to whom, apparently, Jim was less than faithful) - his recordings have been issued and reissued, occasionally slathered with new instrumentation and even artificially turned into duets with the equally dead Patsy Cline, who also expired in plane crash. I think it’s incredible that no-one at RCA or MCA (who owned Cline’s back catalogue) thought that issuing a fake duet of the song I Fall to Pieces was in poor taste. But before RCA paired Jim’s ghost with Patsy’s they issued a few other howlers, two of which I present for you today.

First up is Old Tige, the B-side to Jim's huge 1966 hit Distant Drums. Old Tige was one of my father’s favourite records, but it is beyond horrible; a ridiculously sentimental piece of claptrap that’s as obvious as it is distasteful. A dead dog of a song about – fittingly - a dead dog, this risible tale originally appeared on Gentleman Jim’s 1961 album Talkin’ to Your Heart. Today’s second track is the vile But You Love Me, Daddy, issued in the UK as an A-side (believe it or not) in 1969. The song had been recorded 10 years earlier but Reeves wisely declined to release it – something he couldn’t prevent once he’d snuffed it. Producer Atkins dusted off the acetate, dubbed on some basic orchestration and landed yet another hit for the Reeves estate.

Incidentally the whiny child heard on But You Love Me, Daddy – and credited on the disc as Steve Moore – is better known these days as R Stevie Moore, the incredibly prolific low-fi legend. Moore’s appearance on the 1959 recording marks his debut studio session; he had been brought in by his bass playing father Bob Moore to re-record the child's vocal line, originally laid down by Dorothy Dillard. The song was written by Kathryn Twitty (occasionally credited as Pat Twitty, and no relation to the singer Conway Twitty) who also wrote Teach Me How to Pray recorded and released in 1959 by Reeves. It was later covered by wife-swapping Scots entertainers The Krankies.



  1. Old Tige still brings an ol' tear to the eye. Great pair of songs, Thanks!

  2. Absolute genius. My wife has come up with a new couplet for "But I love you daddy"- You shit on the floor, I can't take any more.....But I love you Daddy.

  3. I'm a big fan of Gentleman Jim, but these two are catastrophically atrocious.

    1. Thanks George. I like a lot of Jim's stuff too, but his legacy hasn't been well-served unfortunately

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. As an avid JR fan, the version of But You Love Me Daddy by Steve Moore is far better than the other one by Dorothy Dillard (one of the Anita Kerr Singers) who pretends to be a child - pathetic! The worst JR song by his own admission was 'Beatin On The Ding Dong'....I think it was the Abbot days when he had no choice in what he sang.


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