Reeves Gabrels had been laying fairly low in the 21st century when he turned in his third solo album, Rockonica, for Steve Vai's Favored Nations label. Gabrels is clearly best known as a hired gun, and on previous efforts has called in favors from his more famous singing employers, whether it was to add "star power" to an album or because Gabrels was unsure of his own vocal abilities. This time out, all the lead and many of the backing vocals are handled by Gabrels (who seems to have gotten more confident as a vocalist), and the album actually comes off stronger as a result. He's a good though not great songwriter but he is a great guitarist, and since that's presumably the direction most listeners will come at this from, they won't be disappointed. As a player, Gabrels rarely plays it safe and the songs provide excellent vehicles for his gonzo soloing. Bruising riffs are offset by pedal and lap steel guitars, excellent wah-wah playing, sumptuous feedback, and even a lovely acoustic guitar duet ("13th Hour").
The Definitive Collection does an effective job of chronicling the majority of Martha & the Vandellas biggest hits from their first chart entry "Come and Get These Memories" in 1963 to their final one, "Honey Chile," in 1967. All of the familiar radio tracks such as "Heatwave," "Dancing in the Street," "Nowhere to Run," and "Jimmy Mack" are featured alongside several singles of equal quality that didn't get as much radio play upon initial release. While there are other, more exhaustive compilations, such as the double-disc set Live Wire! The Singles 1962-1972, this is the best concise overview of Martha & the Vandellas' career, containing the most hits on a single disc.
Gentleman Jim Reeves was perhaps the biggest male star to emerge from the Nashville sound. His mellow baritone voice and muted velvet orchestration combined to create a sound that echoed around his world and has lasted to this day. Detractors will call the sound country-pop (or plain pop), but none can argue against the large audience that loves this music. Reeves was capable of singing hard country ("Mexican Joe" went to number one in 1953), but he made his greatest impact as a country-pop crooner. From 1955 through 1969, Reeves was consistently in the country and pop charts – an amazing fact in light of his untimely death in an airplane accident in 1964. Not only was he a presence in the American charts, but he became country music's foremost international ambassador and, if anything, was even more popular in Europe and Britain than in his native America.