Courtesy: Memphis International Records
Late next month Memphis International Records will release its new Charlie Rich tribute record Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich to the world. The record, while hardly the first ever collection of the classic country singer’s songs, is definitely one of the rare Charlie Rich collections worth hearing. That is due in part to the songs that were chosen for the record. That will be discussed shortly. They are only a part of what makes this record stand out. The artists who were chosen for the compilation are just as important to note as the songs that were chosen. That will be discussed later. The different approaches taken to Rich’s songs rounds out the most important of the record’s elements. Listeners will find, in hearing this record, that each element is important in its own way to the record’s presentation. All things considered, the record in whole proves to be a piece that any classic country fan should have in his or her own music library.
Memphis International Records’ new Charlie Rich tribute record is a piece that every classic country fan (and even every country fan in general) should have in his or her own music library. That is due in no small part to the songs chosen for the record. Thirteen of Rich’s songs were chosen for the record, some more well-known and some not so well-known. The record’s second offering, ‘Caught in The Middle’ is one of those lesser known pieces. The song was originally the b-side to the single ‘Who Will The Next Fool Be.’ Speaking of that song, it is also included in this compilation later in its sequencing. The record’s opening song ‘Lonely Weekends’ is one of Rich’s more well-known pieces. It was originally a single included in Rich’s debut 1960 record Lonely Weekends With Charlie Rich. Even ‘Midnight Blues’—originally included in Rich’s 1971 album A Time for Tears—is here along with a number of other songs that fans of all ages will enjoy. The songs are enjoyable not because they are such a solid mix of Rich’s songs from his Sun Records days, but also because of the artists tapped to record the songs.
The songs that were chosen to make up the body of Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich are important to note in the record’s presentation because they represent a very distinct period in Rich’s career. That period is Rich’s time with Sun Records. The period specific songs are only one part of what makes this record stand out for country fans. The artists chosen to perform the songs are just as important to note as the songs themselves. That is due in part to the fact that the performers tapped for the project do not come only from the world of country music. Singer/songwriter Susan Marshall, for instance, crosses musical borders, writing and performing pop, folk, and rock music. Shooter Jennings, the son of the late, great Waylon Jennings crosses those borders, too writing and performing country and rock songs. Preston Shannon, who takes on Rich’s ‘Easy Money’ is a blues artist, not country. Simply put, the artists tapped for the project are not just country artists. They run the gamut just like Rich himself did during his career. Taking such an approach is a real tribute in itself to Rich and his contributions to the music industry. On another level, the fact that each artist only takes on one song each, rather than taking on multiple compositions, makes them and the record even more enjoyable to hear. Speaking of hearing the songs, the arrangements that each artist presented of his or her given song rounds out the most important of the record’s elements.
The songs that were chosen for Memphis International Records’ new Charlie Rich collection and the artists tapped to perform those songs are each important elements in their own way in examining the record’s presentation. While each element is clearly important to the record’s overall presentation, they are not the record’s only key elements. The performances put in by each artist are just as important to note as the performers themselves and the songs chosen for the record. Jim Lauderdale’s take on ‘Lonely Weekends’ largely pays honor to Rich’s original tune, but amps things up a little bit with his guitar-driven take on the song and an electronic organ in place of Rich’s original piano. By and large, the two renditions are the same, save for those differences, and of course the choir in the background. Considering this, anyone that is familiar with the original song will enjoy this take on the classic tune just as much as the original. Much the same can be said of ‘Easy Money.’
Preston Shannon’s take on ‘Easy Money’ has taken the original sax-driven song and stepped it up even more, replacing the original sax line with a guitar. The drums are also more prominent in Shannon’s take on the song than on the original. It is just one more way in which the record’s performances prove to be just as important to its presentation as the songs and artists tapped for the record. The album’s closer and title track is perhaps the greatest example of the importance of the record’s featured performances.
Kevin Connolly almost directly mirrors Rich with his performance of the beautifully painful ‘Feel Like Going Home.’ While the arrangement is slightly different here from the original—Rich used a piano in his original tune while Connolly used a steel guitar (or what sounds like a steel guitar)—the effect is still the same. It will garner tears from listeners of any age and musical taste. Connolly expertly captures that gravelly tone in Rich’s voice in his take on the song here, adding even more impact to the song. The end result is a song that is so powerful in its painful delivery that it makes the perfect closer for the record and yet another example of the importance of the performances presented throughout the record. Between Connolly’s performance, those of Preston Shannon, Jim Lauderdale, and all of the other artists, the performances shine through brightly from beginning to end. They combine to prove in the end that the performances, while not precise mirror images of Rich’s originals, are just as good as Rich’s songs if not better. When the performances are set against the songs and performers chosen for the record, all three elements join to show in whole why this tribute record is not just another obligatory piece meant to prey on consumer spending habits. They join to make this collection one that country music fans of all ages should have in their personal music libraries.
Memphis International Records’ new Charlie Rich collection Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich is a record that every county music fan should have in his or her music library. That is because the songs presented in the record are in themselves a musical history lesson on Rich and his contributions to the music industry. The performers tapped to record the chosen songs are just as vast as they styles of music that Rich composed during his career. Their performances of those songs, while not mirror images of Rich’s songs, do the original songs justice just as much as they do Rich’s own legacy. They could even be argued to be just as good as Rich’s originals if not better. Keeping all of this in mind, Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich proves in the end to be, again, a must have for any country music fan. It will be available in stores and online on Friday, October 14th. It can be ordered online now via Memphis International Records store. More information on this and other titles from Memphis International Records is available online now at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.