If you thought you’d heard the complete Cline with MCA’s 1991 vault-clearing boxed set, think again. Patsy Cline: The Birth of a Star, from the upstart Razor & Tie label, is a 17-song collection culled from presumed-lost audio tapes of her 1957-58 TV appearances on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts and his other programs. The release, which has remarkable sound quality overall considering the tapes’ age, is an ear opener to say the least.
The Virginia-born Cline, who died in 1963 at age 30 in a plane crash, was a struggling artist with four failed singles when she made her Scouts debut. An obvious winner by song’s end with the bluesy “Walkin’ After Midnight” (Godfrey: “Don’t go away, Patsy, honey, you done won this!”), she became a favorite of the folksy gabmeister, making 14 more stops on his various day and evening shows. The revelation here is that the 24-year-old singer was no product of slick studio gimmickry. The amazing pipes that would make her a star were already in place, and her gutsy vocal presentation is ever on the mark.
Casual fans may know only “Midnight,” but die-hard Patsyphiles will drool over two tunes that she never recorded in a studio—the religious ditty “The Man Upstairs” and “Down by the Riverside,” a gospel song, here sporting secular lyrics. New Patsy Cline songs 33 years after her death? Nirvana.