Reba Breaks the Greatest Hits Mold With ‘Revived Remixed Revisited’

Her new TRIPLE album is much more than a collection of songs you already have ...

Written by Chris Parton
Reba Breaks the Greatest Hits Mold With ‘Revived Remixed Revisited’
Reba; Cover art courtesy of UMG Nashville

With her latest studio album — the huge Revived Remixed Revisited — country icon Reba McEntire goes way beyond your average Greatest Hits project. And really, who could blame her?

After more than 30 traditional album releases and a few standard hits packages, too — including one which has sold more than five million copies in the U.S., all on its own (1993’s Greatest Hits Volume Two) — the Oklahoma native was ready shake things up.

Enter Revived Remixed Revisited, a triple album of beloved tunes that is quite unique. Released on October 8, it is on the surface another Greatest Hits set — but here, each disc reimagines her fan-favorite tunes in whole new way, breathing new life into a classic catalog. One disc finds her live band playing tunes like “Fancy” and “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” just as they would onstage. Another converts “Turn On the Radio” and “Why Haven’t I Heard From You” into blood pumping electronic-dance anthems. And the last — which may be McEntire’s favorite — gives tracks like “Consider Me Gone” and “Does He Love You” new, stripped-down country roots arrangements produced by Grammy winner Dave Cobb.

It has all made what could have been a pretty run-of-the-mill project into something exciting — both for the Country Music Hall of Fame member and her fans — and may now serve as a watershed moment as McEntire enters a new chapter. But ever humble, she won’t take credit for the idea. Speaking with reporters on the day of the album’s release, she said it takes a village to spark an idea this bold.

“I would like to say it was my idea, but unfortunately it was not,” Reba said with a warm smile, chatting via Zoom. “I have a great team at Universal here and RBI management that was just really into this project. … To do albums again or maybe a box set would be like what we’ve done in the past, to me — a standard Greatest Hits thing. So to come up with a dance mix album, and one where the band records the way we do the songs onstage, and then to have a stripped down version? I thought it was genius. So they come up with the ideas and I just go do it. And I loved the way it worked out.”

Already “working out” in playlists across the country, part of that genius was the foresight to include some truly new elements. It’s one thing to re-record an icon’s biggest songs, but to have them updated for the times and reflect McEntire’s place in life makes the project almost irresistible. Tracks like “I’m a Survivor” and “Consider Me Gone” already held so much authority — and that was before the world endured a global pandemic, or McEntire moved on from a decades-long marriage. Many of her beloved hits seem to take on new context in this way — but then there are others which are just plain new, such as “Does He Love You” featuring Dolly Parton.

Incredibly, the pairing marks the first time the two country queens have worked together on the same track, and they made the most of it. A delicate-yet-powerful rendition of the 1993 anthem, which finds a pair of women squaring off over the same no-good man, the track takes on a sense of sophistication on the hands of McEntire and Parton — so much that it begs the question, how has this never happened before?

“We asked each other that while we were doing the video, it’s amazing that we’ve never done a duet,” Reba said. “I’ve gone on programs to sing for her, and she’s done that for me, but to never sing a song together is kind of weird. We did talk about doing more stuff together, and I hope that happens, because I loved working with her. She’s a professional, she’s fun, funny, witty. I could sit and listen to her talk all day long.”

In fact, “Does He Love You” became a personal highlight of the album for McEntire. And although she and Parton cut their vocals at separate times — the project was recorded with COVID-19 protocols in place — they were together to shoot the video.

“My favorite part of shooting the video with Dolly was getting to visit with her in between shots,” Reba explained. “Second was singing with her. But just to hang out and visit like girlfriends was so much fun. Dolly walked in, said ‘Hi’ to everybody — all the camera people and crew, the band that was there. She’s the sweetheart that you think she is … and that’s been the case every time I’ve gotten to work with dolly.

“I loved the play acting we got to do,” she went on. “[At first] we were women at odds, and not liking each other. But by the end we were like ‘Ah you can have him, I don’t want him.’ It was a lot of fun.”

It’s easy to see why that would be a highlight for the superstar, but musically, McEntire seems to be in love with the Revisited disc. That’s the one that took her most enduring songs and removed all but the most-essential ingredients — helping expose the solid foundations of emotion, storytelling and vocal dynamism beneath.

Her “Does He Love You” duet with Parton is on that disc, as well as heart-on-her-sleeve renditions of “The Last One to Know,” “Somebody Should Leave” and more. Many are geared down with slower rhythms, and again, McEntire won’t take the credit (even though she deserves at least some of it).

“I love Dave Cobb. I knew his work from Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell but never had met him, and he’s so laid back, he’s easy to work with,” Reba said. “We took 10 songs and stripped them down so it was less instruments, but a laid-back feel to where the song would breathe and the words came through. We got to take a breath with them — [because] during COVID when we were recording these, I was out of shape! I didn’t have my lung capacity like when you’re touring, and you can take long breaths. So it was good we did slow them down for me, frankly. … But the songs that we chose to do on the Revisited album were perfect for Dave Cobb and his musicians.”

In particular, tracks like “Consider Me Gone” take on a gritty new wrinkle of realism. Reba calls the Revisited version “more mature,” and says fans might hardly recognize it now, as it moves from an “in-your-face” anthem to a more dejected country ballad, resigned to a lonely fate.

Likewise, “I’m a Survivor” has started a new life of its own, with TikTok users making it the inspiration for a whole campaign of hilarity (which McEntire has been happy to get in on). It’s featured two ways on Revived Remixed Revisited, including with an inspiring dance remix by Lafemmebear, and the star says it captures how she feels about life and music these days.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” she said. “Professionally, personally, all the highs and lows. We’re all survivors, and I think that’s an anthem that everyone should be proud of. We’ve had to deal with a lot, especially over the last two years, and we know we can get through this together.”

In truth, Reba McEntire is much more than a survivor, and she’s doing more than just getting through. Although this triple album of hits is proof she could kick up her heels, and rest on her laurels, that’s never been an option for McEntire. And more work is on the way.

After bringing her long-running Together in Vegas residency with Brooks & Dunn to a close this year, she’ll also embark on a full scale headlining tour. And along with a lead role in her first Lifetime Christmas movie (Christmas in Tune), there’s likely all-new music coming soon — Revived Remixed Revisited is just the primer. Asked if she had written any new songs over the last year-and-a-half of COVID-19 postponements, she had a simple — but delightful — answer.

“Yup, I did!” she said with unbridled excitement. “I probably wrote and co-wrote more than I have in the last 10 years.”