Archive for February 17th, 2010

17th February
written by Matt The Cat
Patsy Cline
Sweet Dreams – The Complete Decca Studio Masters 1960-1963

It’s a real shame that the March 5, 1963 plane crash that took the immensely talented and relatively young (she was only 30 years old) Patsy Cline isn’t remembered nearly as well as the February 3, 1959 crash that robbed us of Buddy Holly. They are more connected than you’d immediately think. Both Buddy and Patsy had a unique vulnerability in their vocal styles, both worked with producer Owen Bradley at Decca Records and both were on-top of their game and at the height of their success when their lives were tragically cut short. You may not know right off the bat that you’re about to hear a Patsy Cline song just by the clean, Nashville-sound intro. But after you hear her sing the very first note, you know. You know that no matter if it’s one of her many pop and country hits, a more obscure old album track or an interpretation of a classic standard, it will have that Patsy Cline stamp on it and it will be worth three minutes of your time. That’s what makes this new 2 CD set from Hip-O Select that chronicles every session Patsy had with Decca Records from 1960 to 1963 so worthwhile.

Let me begin by telling you what’s NOT on this new collection of Patsy Cline tunes. We don’t get any of her recordings for the Four Star label, which she was on from 1955 to 1959. Even though Four Star had a distribution deal with Decca Records, these songs weren’t technically recorded for Decca. Her true Decca period began in 1960 and last through her death in 1963. During this period she cut “A Church, A Courtroom And Then Goodbye,” “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down” and the original HIT version of “Walkin’ After Midnight.” The version of “Midnight” on this collection is a re-recording from 1961. She recorded some fine material for Four Star, but it was a bad deal and according to producer Owen Bradley (a Nashville institution), those recordings only hinted at Patsy’s potential. That’s why when her contract with Bill McCall of Four Star was up, Bradley made it a point to get her signed to Decca. This provided Patsy with a much better business deal as well as much better material in general.

What we have on this collection is her entire output for Decca Records, beginning with “I Fall To Pieces” in 1961, which was a mega hit on both the Country and Pop Charts. I’ve always loved how the guitar lick accents the “pieces falling.”

All of these tracks were recorded at Owen Bradley’s studio in Nashville and they all have a common thread in both sound quality and content. Bradley’s productions are just so lush, full and fantastic. It is the “Nashville” sound at its best and it sounds amazing on this remastered set. I listed to this set in several long listening sessions and I really got the feeling like I was listening to an artist’s complete recorded statement. It is as if this is one very long LP. All the songs flow and fit together just perfectly. Nothing about it is disjointed in any way. Most of the tunes are mid-tempo, but I found the arrangements to be consistently interesting and engaging. Patsy’s voice shines through as the star of the show in every possible way. I love the little vocal sneer at the end of “Imagine That.” It gets me every time. This is music full of emotion and a human quality that many singers couldn’t dream of approaching. Patsy had it in spades.

Whether she’s singing old standards like Cole Porter’s “True Love,” Hank’s “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “You Belong To Me” and “That’s My Desire” or songs that she made famous like “I Fall To Pieces,” “Back In Baby’s Arms,” Don Gibson’s “Sweet Dreams (Of You)” and Bob Wills’ “Faded Love,” Patsy draws you in.

If you haven’t heard Patsy’s interpretation of “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home”, then you owe yourself a listen. She starts it off slow as if she’s begging for Bill Bailey to return, but then it turns into a joyous romp. By the end of the tune, you wonder if she’ll ever need Bill Bailey again. Her womanhood has triumphed over her need for a man.

There are no outtakes, alternative takes or rarities on this set, but “Sweet Dreams – The Complete Decca Studio Recordings 1960-1963” makes a solid attempt to show that Patsy Cline was not just a Country singer, but also a wonderfully expressive pop singer as well. Any fan of classic interpretive pop singing over a lush, musical soundscape, should have this collection on their shelf.

Click Here For The Complete Track Listing and More Info.