Picks and Pans Review: Feel Like Going Home: the Essential Charlie Rich
While he has been regarded primarily as a '70s crossover country star—thanks to such popchart hits as "Behind Closed Doors" and "The Most Beautiful Girl"—Charlie Rich was one of the most versatile performers of his time, an era that extends way back to his '50s stint as Elvis's labelmate on Sun Records. Nicknamed the Silver Fox because of his slick platinum coif, Rich, who died of a blood clot in 1995, specialized in sensitive-man ballads like "A Woman Left Lonely" and "Life's Little Ups and Downs," but his recording roots were planted in rockabilly (exemplified by early rave-ups like "Lonely Weekends" and "Break Up"), and his heart belonged to the bluesy strains of jazz (which he fully explored on 1992's torchy Pictures and Paintings, his final album).
Although this double-disc compilation documents Rich's mastery of all the above styles (among others), it largely ignores his reign as a Nashville king. That means you'll have to turn elsewhere to enjoy the easy-listening riches of "A Very Special Love Song" and the soulful country of "Rollin' with the Flow." With its curious selections—we get yet another cover of "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby" but no "On My Knees"—The Essential Charlie Rich ends up being far from complete. (Epic/Legacy)