Every Engelbert fan should know that Release Me is his iconic hit that launched his career. So any album covering his music is not complete without this tune.
As I might have written in and earlier blog or as mentioned in my bio, I grew up in Texas. I will confess that as I child, I was not a fan of country music. In fact, I made every attempt to avoid it, (which is NOT easy in Texas). Ironically, in California, it began to grow on me, and now living in New York, I can, with all sincerity, say that I'm a fan of country music. (Even found myself watching the Country Music Awards recently).
Well, I mention this, because this big hit of Engelbert is country tune in the style of Johnny Cash or maybe Glenn Campbell, but the curious fact that an English man interpreted it and made such a huge hit out of it is fascinating.
In Engelbert's recording, one of the things I admire is the simplicity in the arrangement and production. The rhythm section is not doing anything fancy, the orchestra and background vocals create a warm pad, but remain in the background. So in recording this classic, I also wanted to keep it simple.
The intro is an open vamp of the first two chords, creating a meditative question and answer tone. I also decided to slow the tempo slightly so I could emphasize a subtle rhythmic subdivision in my playing. Harmonically, the song is pretty much three chords, but you may hear the occasional secondary dominant substitutions (more on the 2nd & 3rd chorus) that I throw in in the style of gospel music. This taps into my roots growing up as a Southern Baptist Church pianist. And a tip of the hat to traditional country music, I use the obligatory Floyd Cramer lick. And I finally end the song with tag found on Engelbert's recording.
Enjoy : - )