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Hits Plus Ones I've Written

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Album Review

Carl Belew enjoyed greater success as a songwriter than as a recording artist, which is a shame; while his songs were very good indeed (and artists ranging from Gene Vincent to Debbie Reynolds had hits with them), Belew had a strong, clear voice (sounding a bit like a folksier Eddy Arnold) that could communicate both good times and heartbreak with equal skill, and he interpreted his own material with intelligence and sensitivity, knowing when to play up the frequent sentimentality of his lyrics without pushing it too hard. Hits Plus Ones I've Written collects 19 out of print sides from Belew's sessions for RCA (with Chet Atkins serving as producer on the lion's share of the tracks), and this is countrypolitan at its best. While this is low on Belew's best-known compositions ("Stop the World [And Let Me Off]," "Lonely Street," and "What's He Doing in My World" are not to be found here), the material that has been included is top-shelf stuff, and from the playful "Girl Crazy" to the honky tonk attitude of "Boston Jail" and the lost romance of "I Spent a Week There One Day," this disc shows Belew knew how to write a great song and bring it across. It's worth noting there are also a few great tracks here that Belew didn't write, and "Crystal Chandelier," "Walking Shadows, Talking Memories," and "Hello Out There" make it clear this guy should have been able to make it on his skill as a vocalist alone, while Atkins' settings are subtle and effective. While a compilation of Belew's best recordings for Decca would be more than welcome, Hits Plus Ones I've Written finally puts a quality sampling of his recordings back in print, and anyone who love sophisticated country from the 1960s ought to investigate this collection.


Born: April 21, 1931 in Salina, OK

Genre: Traditional Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Despite recording eight albums between 1960 and 1972, Carl Belew is best remembered as a songwriter whose work was covered by an eclectic group of artists ranging from Patsy Cline to Gene Vincent to Andy Williams. Born in Oklahoma in 1931, Belew first entered the studio in 1955; by the following year, he gained his first widespread exposure thanks to appearances on a pair of California-based radio programs, Town Hall Party and The Cliffie Stone Show. In 1957, he performed on the Louisiana Hayride....
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Hits Plus Ones I've Written, Carl Belew
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