The Essential George Jones

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
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.
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/28/2006
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 827969256527
  • Catalog Number: 92565
  • Sales rank: 4,201

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
Vic Anesini Mastering
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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