George Jones – The Great Lost Hits

January 01, 1970

(Musicor/Time Life)


After time on the Starday, Mercury and United Artists
labels between 1957 and 1964  George
Jones settled in with the Musicor label from ’65 to ’71. Musicor was started by
Mercury’s co-founder Art Talmadge and Harold “Pappy Daily” who had worked with
Talmadge at UA. Along with the Platters, Gene Pitney and Melba Montgomery,
Jones was one of the first and most successful of the label’s artists. The
tunes collected here are some of the possum’s pre-Billy Sherrill, pre-Tammy
Wynette best, from before the kind of substance abuse that got the better of
him and led to stunts like drunken riding mower incidents that earned him the
nickname “No-Show Jones.” This stuff is oh so good. But make no mistake; it’s
not compromise, crossover good; it’s get-that-Shania-Flatts-junk-outta-here good. This is “just us”
country for “just us.”


Sure, there was great stuff before the Musicor
years (“She Thinks I Still Care”; “Window Up Above”)) and after (“The Grand
Tour”; “He Stopped Loving Her Today”) but there’s a particular swagger to the
Musicor output. By this time-a little before to be fair-Jones had stopped
trying to be Hank Williams and was confidently and gloriously George Jones,
still keeping his wild side somewhat under control. Whether his glorious pipes
were wrapped around the tenderly sentimental “Walk Through This World With Me”,
the tears in my beer lament “The Honky Tonk Downstairs” (ably covered by Poco)
or the flat out silliness of “Milwaukee Here I Come” and “Love Bug,” there’s no
dogging it for the Possum nor any skimping on the quality of the playing and


In fact, the biggest quibble with this set, the
only quibble, is the lack of player information. Is that Pete Drake or Buddy
Emmons, maybe, playing that magnificent steel guitar on “I Can’t Get There From
Here?” And who is doing that exquisite chicken picking on “Love Bug?” Could it
be Reggie Young? Who knows? Pappy Daily’s not around anymore but George is
still with us, thank goodness. Even if his memory might fail him (for whatever
reasons) he could probably come up with one or two names and a little detective
work might have had some results. Maybe the players included guitarist Bill
Aken (a member of the loose knit aggregation of studio players known as the
Wrecking Crew) who also recorded under the name Zane Ashton and worked
frequently with Daily. Some of the people involved are certainly still around.
Is a little detective work too much to ask of the folks behind these re-release
projects? Isn’t the information about players and technicians that was left off
of the packaging of most records until the late sixties or so (sometimes even
later, with country recordings) one of the most important and best features of
boxed sets and reissues? 


The people playing on this record are on the same
high level as Jones. He deserves every bit of the recognition he’s gotten over
the years; so do those un-credited players who helped make him a star and put a
whole lot of coin into the pockets of the labels that put out his records and
those who remix, repackage and re-release them.


“As Long As I Live”; “The Honky Tonk Downstairs” RICK ALLEN


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