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Jimmy Fortune

Showtime – 2001 (Music Box)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Jimmy Fortune

Hot on the heels of Eric Heatherly's rockabilly remake of their 1965 hit "Flowers On the Wall," the Statler Brothers return with a disc of very satisfying all-new material. Aided by Jerry Kennedy, who produced their 54 chart hits at Mercury from 1970 to 1989, the Virginia-based quartet sounds as frisky as ever.

Excepting Steve Wariner's "Darlin' I Do," which smartly fits the group's loping barbershop style, all the songs are written by the group or family associates. Tops among these are "She Never Altogether Leaves," "I've Had A Good Time," "Too Late For Roses," and "It Should Have Been Me." These neatly crafted ditties are successfully modeled after the Statler's big nostalgia-oriented hits of the '70's. Perhaps the disc's biggest change-of-pace is the inclusion of tenor Jimmy Fortune's "Look At Me," which plays out with all the panache of a Roy Orbison/Gene Pitney '60's pop ballad.

Harold Reid's solo bass vocals wobble off the mark on occasion, but as a whole, the group masterfully executes their harmonies with tender precision and spirit. Indeed, their a cappella arrangement of "I've Got Jesus On My Side" provides ample proof that the Statlers still have the chops, and desire, to make meaningful country and gospel music.