I have enjoyed a lot of the Bear boxed sets but cringe at how expensive most of them are. Mr. Weize's strategy is apparently to be a mile wide and an inch deep -- not selling a lot of any one product, but selling a few of a lot of different CDs and thereby fattening his wallet. He knows the diehard fans will pay any price so he can get by with inflating the prices on his sets to stratospheric heights.
A number of reviewers of "The Great Jim Reeves" 8 CD set I produced for VoiceMasters/H&H Music Ltd., (which sells for only $49.95 and has 176 tracks, a lot of new music, 96 new overdubs, a 48 page full color booklet, and makes Jim sound better than ever before with the addition of new musical backings and some incredible remastering of his voice for truly stunning richness and clarity), have pointed out the tremendous value you get for your money. They have said it even out-flanks the 16-CD set Bear released years ago that is still being marketed as containing all Jim's songs even though VoiceMasters has proven irrefutably that that is NOT true, as we have premiered a lot of new material that is not in the Bear set.
Anyway, I don't pretend to understand Bear's focus on some of the very obscure artists they choose to release box sets on (eg. the COKER family????) -- most of whom never achieved even a modicum of success decades ago and are very forgettable. I also hear from insiders that Richard has apparently lost interest in the day to day operation of his company, as memos addressed to him get passed on to others for reply. Those who have had dealings with Bear in recent years point out that some of the people Mr. Weize has had master material have done a really shoddy job, both in the remastering AND the tape research. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of centralized quality control anymore.
But Bear's reputation is firmly established and some fans worship at Bear's altar.
"Kevin J. Roberts" and a couple of others, have posted in various forums online to sing the praises of Bear and claim -- without a shred of evidence -- that that company releases only CDs that are "authorized" by estates and that "all proper royalties" are paid to the estates. HOW DO THEY KNOW? Are they on the Bear payroll?
These individuals go on to allege that I release bootlegs, and am ripping off the estates of various artists. Such reckless public statements fall into the domain of defamation and actionable slander, as they are maliciously intended and lack legal merit.
In defending the Bear Abbott set on Jim Reeves, Mr. Roberts attacks me. As a close personal friend of various Reeves heirs I can assure you that none of them "authorized" Bear to do the Abbott project nor have they received any remuneration. In Bear's defense, I should add that NONE WAS NEEDED. Bear is an EU-based label and under EU law, copyright in sound recordings expires in 50 years. There is no necessity for Bear to acquire "permission" from an estate or pay an estate, and I assure you there are a plethora of labels recycling the back catalogs of scores of artists.
However, we all pay the song licensing fees that compensate the publishers and songwriters.
Most fans believe Jim Reeves only achieved his true greatness when he sang in a lower key and developed the intimate style that Bea Terry nurtured. But if you are one of those who prefers to hear Jim singing harshly and high-pitched like a hillbilly with his pants too tight, then the Bear Abbott set is for you! It makes no difference to me whatsoever, as I don't aim for the same market segment that Bear does.
But these clowns who keep claiming Bear only produces "authorized" sets need to get their facts straight. Doris Day gave an interview in which she expressed shock when sent a copy of a boxed set Bear put out on her, and she initially even refused to listen to it. Doris surely did not collaborate with that company, nor do other artists/estates that I'm personally aware of.
The histrionic Mr. Roberts even asserts that overdubs without a deceased artist's approval should be "illegal" (huh?). Maybe if he did a little research before shooting off his mouth, "Kevin" would learn that Jim Reeves himself charted the roadmap for Mary to follow in case anything happened to him, and encouraged her to update his music with overdubbing, which she did so successfully Jim had 34 charted hits after his death. The only artist in the history of recorded music to do so. I have also gotten Jim several Top Five songs in the EU, including two #1s, as recently as last July, with my overdubs.
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