George Jones: The Great Lost Hits (Time Life/Southbound)

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George Jones: Take Me
George Jones: The Great Lost Hits (Time Life/Southbound)

Lawd almighty, but ain't there been some archival albums appearing lately?

In the past few weeks Elsewhere has noted albums of Bob Dylan barely out of his teens (here); Kris Kristofferson before the fame (here), Willie Nelson's earliest material (here) . . . and now the great George Jones.

The honky-tonk balladeer, country weeper (Things have Gone to Pieces -- see clip below -- is one of the great "lost my woman/home/car/dog" songs) and working man's hero is one of the cornerstone figures in country -- and of course his troubled private life, heroic drinking, catalogue of great material and interpretations  . . . and a voice of considerable emotional range made him a legend in his own lifetime. Sad songs came easy to him because there was a lot of pain in his life.

The title of this double-disc collection is slightly misleading: these aren't so much "lost" as songs which have been previously unavailable because of contractual litigation. But here, distilled from a huge body of work on the Musicor label, are some of his greatest songs from '65 to '71: A Good Year For the Roses, A Day in the Life of a Fool, Burn Another Honky Tonk Down, Things Have Gone to Pieces, Beneath Still Waters, Feeling Single Seeing Double . . .

This is the time to pour yourself a shot of whiskey and submerge yourself in a world of pain, the damp-eyed promise of a happy but cliched image of marriage, the talk around town, the temptations of soft lips, the working life . . .

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