Essential George Jones

The Essential George Jones

by George Jones
     
 
George Jones has enough hard-core fans to make any collection that dares bill itself as "essential" a topic of heated debate among the cognoscenti. That said, this double-CD, 40-cut retrospective does an outstanding job of charting the career arc that made Jones the most influential country vocalist of his time -- and, by some estimates, of all time. Essential

Overview

George Jones has enough hard-core fans to make any collection that dares bill itself as "essential" a topic of heated debate among the cognoscenti. That said, this double-CD, 40-cut retrospective does an outstanding job of charting the career arc that made Jones the most influential country vocalist of his time -- and, by some estimates, of all time. Essential tells the story of a career shaped wholly by two producers: namely, Harold "Pappy" Daily, who signed Jones to his Texas-based Starday label in 1954, and Billy Sherrill, who brought Jones to Epic in 1970 and made him a legend. The only cut here not produced by one or the other of them is the final one, 1999's "Choices," a brutal bit of autobiographical lamentation produced by Keith Stegall for Jones's powerful Cold Hard Truth album. Working with Daily through the '60s, Jones stayed true to a honky-tonk ethos but evolved from emulating Hank Williams (1954's "No Money in This Deal" is so Hank it's scary) to copping some Carl Perkins phrasing (1956's "Just One More") to establishing his own skewed, emotion-rich phrasing by the time of 1960's loping honky-tonk heartbreaker, "Out of Control." After Jones signed with Epic, Sherrill built on some of Daily's more extravagant touches (notably the pop-influenced background singers heard on cuts such as the No. 2 single from 1960, "The Window Up Above"), adding discreet strings to that formula and building up the instrumental tracks. The spectacular results occupy the last third of Disc 1 and all of Disc 2, including a couple of duets with Tammy Wynette, as well as monuments such as "The Grand Tour," "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "The Battle," and 1982's "I Always Get Lucky with You," Jones's last No. 1 with Sherrill. Remastered and well annotated, this one's a for-sure keeper.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It has a similar title and a similar length to Epic/Legacy's 1994 double-disc set The Essential George Jones: The Spirit of Country, but Epic/Legacy's 2006 collection The Essential George Jones is a different beast entirely. At 40 tracks, it's four songs shorter than the 1994 comp, but the real difference is in the song selection. Where The Spirit of Country offered a good overview of every label George recorded for between 1955 and 1989, Legacy could not get licensing for his work for Musicor in the second half of the '60s, which means there are a few big omissions here, including "Things Have Gone to Pieces," "Love Bug," "I'm a People," "Walk Through This World with Me," "Say It's Not You," and "A Good Year for the Roses." With the exception of "Things Have Gone to Pieces" and "Say It's Not You," all of those singles were on The Spirit of Country, and their absence is felt on Essential, as is the absence of novelty numbers like 1959's "Who Shot Sam" to 1976's "Her Name Is..." These silly songs are nearly as much a trademark of Jones' style as his signature ballad style, so without them -- and without the Musicor songs -- The Essential feels a bit lop-sided toward the serious hardcore honky tonk. Hardly a fatal flaw, of course, since this is where much of Jones' legacy lies, and it is a good, accurate overview of George's career, even if it's not as thorough or lively as The Spirit of Country. Apart from the aforementioned Musicor sides and his MCA work of the '90s (which is hardly a glaring omission), this offers a fair representation of his many labels: there are four cuts from Starday, six apiece from Mercury and United Artists, a whopping 25 sides from Epic -- which is appropriate, since he spent nearly 20 years on the label and had over 60 charting singles while he was there -- and, as a coda, a cut from his 1999 album for Asylum. Along the way, most, but certainly not all, of his big hits are presented, including "Why Baby Why," "White Lightning," "The Window Up Above," "Tender Years," "She Thinks I Still Care," "The Race Is On," "The Grand Tour," and "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Any George compilation that has all these hits, along with many other excellent songs, is bound to be a great listen and a useful overview -- it's just that the absences here are large enough that this can't quite supplant The Spirit of Country, which remains the best overall George Jones compilation. But if that set can't be found, this is a good substitute.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/28/2006
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0827969256527
catalogNumber:
92565
Rank:
7211

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. No Money in This Deal
  2. I'm Ragged But I'm Right
  3. Why Baby Why
  4. Just One More
  5. Color of the Blues
  6. White Lightning
  7. Out of Control
  8. You're Still on My Mind
  9. The Window Up Above
  10. Tender Years
  11. She Thinks I Still Care
  12. A Girl I Used to Know
  13. The Race Is On
  14. We Must Have Been out of Our Minds
  15. Take Me
  16. We Can Make It
  17. Loving You Could Never Be Better
  18. What a Woman Can't Do
  19. A Picture of Me (Without You)
  20. Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You)

Disc 2

  1. The Grand Tour
  2. Once You've Had the Best
  3. We Loved It Away
  4. The Door
  5. These Days (I Barely Get By)
  6. Memories of Us
  7. I Just Don't Give a Damn
  8. A Drunk Can't Be a Man
  9. Stand on My Own Two Knees
  10. The Battle
  11. Someday My Day Will Come
  12. He Stopped Loving Her Today
  13. If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)
  14. I've Aged Twenty Years in Five
  15. Still Doin' Time
  16. You've Still Got a Place in My Heart
  17. I Always Get Lucky with You
  18. The Right Left Hand
  19. I'm a One Woman Man
  20. Choices

Album Credits

Performance Credits

George Jones   Primary Artist

Technical Credits

Johnny Horton   Composer
George Jones   Composer
Melba Montgomery   Composer
Johnny Paycheck   Composer
Tammy Wynette   Composer
Carmol Taylor   Composer
Leon Payne   Composer
Carl Belew   Composer
Bobby Braddock   Composer
Roger Bowling   Composer
Gary Church   Composer
Jerry Crutchfield   Composer
Dave Kirby   Composer
Dickey Lee   Composer
A.L. Owens   Composer
Freddy Powers   Composer
Curly Putman   Composer
J.P. Richardson   Composer
George Richey   Composer
Don Rollins   Composer
Billy Sherrill   Composer,Producer
Keith Stegall   Producer
Glenn Sutton   Composer
Rich Kienzle   Liner Notes
Tillman Franks   Composer
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Slick Lawson   Cover Photo
Rick Beresford   Composer
Lew Kimball   Composer
M.P. Curtis   Composer
Darrell Edwards   Composer
Earl Montgomery   Composer
Luke McDaniel   Composer
Herbie Treece   Composer
Tex Whitson   Composer
A. Wilson   Composer
G Martin   Composer
John Moffatt   Composer
Carl Montgomery   Composer
Jimmy Peppers   Composer
Tom Choi   Packaging Manager
Michael Patrick Heeney   Composer
D. Edwards   Composer
Dennis Knutson   Composer
J. Niles Clement   Composer
Bill Yates   Composer

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