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The Johnson Mountain Boys  -> The Judds

THE JOHNSON MOUNTAIN BOYS Rounder 0260/61 At The Old Schoolhouse ● CD $16.98
Recorded live in 1988 and designed as their farewell concert, this set documents the sound of perhaps the most popular bluegrass group to emerge in the 80s. The sound of the Johnson Mtn. Boys has always been determinedly traditional, anchored in excellent, if not flashy instrumental work. Particularly fine are Eddie Stubbs on fiddle and latecomer Tom Adams on banjo, with bassist Marshall Wilborn and mandolinist David McLaughlin's convincing lead and harmony vocals. But it is Dudley Connell's emotive vocals that have given the band much of its appeal, as on Let The Whole World Talk, the closest thing to a hit a traditional bluegrass band has had in years. An impressive farewell bow from a band that will be sorely missed. (RP)

THE JOHNSON MOUNTAIN BOYS Rounder 0293 Blue Diamond ● CD $16.98
14 tracks, 38 min., recommended. These guys have long been considered the saviors of traditional bluegrass; there's no arguing with their taste, drive, or tight ensemble playing. Tom Adams (banjo) and David McLaughlin (mando) are two of the hottest tradition oriented players around. Eddie Stubbs is an exciting bluegrass, swing, and honky tonk fiddler, and Dudley Connell is an impassioned lead vocalist. The song selection here is outstanding, featuring classics from The Stanleys, Hazel Dickens, Jean Ritchie, Connie and Babe, the Ray Price standard You Done Me Wrong, along with Bob Dylan's Only A Hobo, which fits in very nicely, and Buck Owen's There Goes My Love. My favorite is Duncan And Brady, unearthed by Connell, who oversees the Smithsonian/ Folkways collection. (RP)

GEORGE JONES Bear Family BCD 16818 She Thinks I Still Care - Complete United Artists Recordings ● CD $145.98
At last a box set devoted to one of the greatest honky tonk singers of the 20th century - hopefully the first of several since George has a length and incredibly productive career. This 5 CD box set features all his recordings made for the United Artists between 1962 and 1964 - 150 tracks - six of them previously unissued. His first United Artists release was a #1 country hit and he continued racking u hit after hit for the label - Open Pit Mine/ A Girl I used To Kno/ Not What I Had In Mind/ You Combed Her Hair/ The race Is On and many more - all included here. The set also includes all his duets with Melba Montgomery - many of them big hits in their own right. Comes with a 48 page booklet with extensive notes by Rich Kienzle, rare photos and full discographical information.

GEORGE JONES Bear Family BCD 16858 Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight - Heartbreak Hotel ● CD $21.98
This volume in Bear Family's "Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight" series features 35 up tempo recordings from the greatest living honky tonk country singer recorded for Starday and Mercury in the 1950s. It includes his first hit Why Baby, Why as well as rarities, obscurities, and shoulda-been-hits like No Money In This Deal/ Too Much Water/ Tall Tall Trees (written by Roger Miller and later a #1 hit for Alan Jackson), Nothing Can Stop Me/ That's The Way I Feel/ Revenooer Man (written by Donny Young, aka Johnny Paycheck)/ Who Shot Sam, and Sparkling Brown Eyes. There's Jones' only major pop hit (and #1 country hit) White Lightnin' (written by the Big Bopper). Starday Records persuaded Jones into recording several rockabilly tunes under the name of Thumper Jones - the classics Rock It and How Come It. Short of cash, Jones also covered other artists' hits for Starday's budget-priced series of Dixie EPs. These included Heartbreak Hotel and Johnny Horton's I'm A One-Woman Man (a 1988 hit when George re-recorded it for Epic). It also includes a rare radio spot from his Starday years. The 48 page booklet has extensive notes by country expert Rich Kienzle.
GEORGE JONES: Baby (You've Got What It Takes)/ Did I Ever Tell You/ Eskimo Pie/ Gonna Come Get You/ Heartbreak Hotel/ Hold Everything/ How Come It/ I'm Ragged But I'm Right/ If I Don't Love You (Grits Ain't Groceries)/ Jesus Wants Me/ Just Little Boy Blue/ Maybe Little Baby/ Mexican Boogie (Boogie Woogie Mexican Boy)/ No Money in This Deal/ Nothing Can Stop Me/ One Woman Man/ Please Take the Devil Out of Me/ Poor Man's Riches/ Revenooer Man/ Rock It (Alternate)/ Slave Lover/ Someone Sweet to Love/ Sparkling Brown Eyes/ Taggin' Along/ Tall Tall Trees/ That's the Way I Feel/ Time Lock/ Too Much Water/ Vitamins L-O-V-E/ White Lightnin'/ Who Shot Sam/ Why Baby Why/ You All Goodnight/ You Better Treat Your Man Right/ You Gotta Be My Baby

GEORGE JONES Fantastic Voyage 107 Ragged But Right - The Starday Years, Plus ... ● CD $21.98
Three CDS, 86 tracks, essential
Bear Family has done a great job reissuing the 60s recordings of the great George Jones on three box sets (all available from Roots & Rhythm) but this set is the first in depth look at his early recordings covering all of his issued recordings cut for Starday and Mercury between 1954 and 1960 including singles, LP tracks and alternate LP versions of some singles. This is Jones at the beginning of his career, the personification of hard-drinking East Texas honky tonk in the very era when the citified Nashville sound was taking off. From his very first crudely-recorded song, No Money in This Deal from 1954 through to the last cut on disc three you know that this is music untouched by the "Nashville Sound". It includes all his early hits like Why Baby Why/ You Gotta Be My Baby/ Don't Stop The Music/ Too Much Water/ Color Of The Blues/ White Lightning and all the rest along with lesser known but equally fine songs like Still Hurtin'/ Your Heart/ Boat Of Life/ What's Wrong With You/ All I Want To Do and many others including his great version of Jimmie Rodgers' Any Old Time, his monumental gospel song Cup Of Loneliness and some great duets with Sonny Burns, Virginia Spurlock and Jeanette Hicks. It also includes his four superb rockabilly sides that were issued as by Thumper Jones. Poignantly forlorn music from the singer who, after Hank Williams, recorded the greatest county music of the 1950s. Excellent sound and 16 page booklet has informative notes by Davy Penny and a discography of these recordings. If you love country music you must have this! (FS)
GEORGE JONES: 'Cause I Love You/ (I'm A) Wandering Soul/ Accidentally On Purpose/ All I Want To Do/ Any Old Time/ Big Harlan Taylor/ Boat Of Life/ Color Of The Blues/ Cup Of Loneliness/ Don't Do This To Me/ Don't Stop The Music/ Eskimo Pie/ Flame In My Heart (with Virginia Spurlock)/ Frozen Heart/ Give-Away Girl/ Gonna Come Get You/ Good Old Bible/ Gotta Talk To Your Heart/ Have Mercy On Me/ Heartbreak Hotel (as Thumper Jones)/ Heartbroken Me (LP version)/ Heartbroken Me (with Sonny Burns)/ Hearts In My Dreams/ Hold Everything/ Hold Everything (LP version)/ How Come It (as Thumper Jones)/ I'll Take The Chance/ I'm A One-Woman Man/ I'm Ragged But I'm Right/ I'm With The Wrong One (with Jeanette Hicks)/ I've Got Five Dollars (And It's Saturday Night)/ If I Don't Love You (Grits Ain't Groceries)/ If You Believe/ If You Want To Wear A Crown/ Into My Arms Again/ It's OK/ Jesus Wants Me/ Just One More,/ Let Him Know/ Life To Go/ Long Time To Forget/ Maybe Little Baby/ Maybe Next Christmas/ Money To Burn/ My Lord Has Called Me/ New Baby For Christmas/ No Money In This Deal (with The Western Cherokees)/ No No Never (with Virginia Spurlock)/ No Use To Cry/ Nothing Can Stop My Love/ One Is A Lonely Number/ Opry Rag (as George Jones' String Band)/ Play It Cool Man, Play It Cool (with The Western Cherokees)/ Ragged But Right (LP version)/ Rain, Rain/ Rock It (as Thumper Jones)/ Run Boy (as Thumper Jones)/ Seasons Of My Heart/ Settle Down/ Singing The Blues/ Sparkling Brown Eyes/ Still Hurtin'/ Sweet Dreams/ Taggin' Along/ Take The Devil Out Of Me/ Tall Tall Trees/ That's The Way I Feel/ Too Much Water/ Treasure Of Love/ Uh, Uh, No/ We'll Understand It/ What Am I Worth?/ What's Wrong With You/ White Lightnin'/ Who Shot Sam?/ Why Baby Why/ Will The Circle Be Unbroken/ Wrong About You (with Sonny Burns)/ Yearning (with Jeanette Hicks, LP version)/ You All Goodnight/ You Gotta Be My Baby/ You Never Thought/ You're Back Again/ You're In My Heart (with The Western Cherokees)/ Your Heart

GEORGE JONES Raven 323 Radio Lover: A Critical Anthology, 1980-19189 ● CD $19.98
25 tracks, 77 mins, very highly recommended
Continuing on from Raven 292 ("Step Right Up, 1970-1979: A Critical Anthology" - $19.98) this contnues the survey of George's Epic recordings, this time covering the period 1980 through 1989 and continues finding George in great form. The lushness of Billy Sherill's arrangements is somewhat toned down and never get in the way of George's heartfelt vocals. most of the songs were written specifically for George and reflect aspects of George's own life including the magnificent If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will), I>Still Doin' Time and the somewhat tongue in cheek Ol George Stopped Drinkin' Today. It also includes two honky tonk masterpieces - the tragic He Stopped Loving Her Today and the grim Radio Lover along with other great songs like She Hung The Moon/ You Must Have Walked Across My MInd Again/ The Right Left Hand and others. Great music from a great artist with excellent sound and informative notes. (FS)

GEORGE JONES CBS Special Products A 21679 The Songs I Wanta Sing ● CD $7.98
I guess you could call this is a "concept compilation" disc. George has selected 10 of his own favorite songs, packaged here in a low price release. Recorded between 1972-1980, includes The Race Is On/ Bartender's Blues/ I'll Take You To My World/ She Loves Me/ We Can Make It. Nothing here that isn't previously released, but it's a decent introduction to George's middle period songs. (PG).

GEORGE JONES Epic EK 34692 All Time Greatest Hits, Vol 1 ● CD $9.98
Good remakes of classics from his lengthy career

GEORGE JONES Epic EK 35544 My Very Special Guests ● CD $9.98
This disc, originally released in 1979, features 10 duets of George with top stars of country and pop. Highlights include Bartender's Blues with James Taylor, I've Turned You To Stone with Linda Ronstadt, and Stranger In The House with Elvis Costello. Other guests include Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, and Waylon Jennings. Billy Sherill adds his tasteful production skills, and George seems to be having a good ol' time on this recording. I really like this one, an unusual addition to anyone's country collection. (PG)

GEORGE JONES Epic EK 36586 I Am What I Am ● CD $9.98
Excellent 1980 set

GEORGE JONES Epic EGK 38323 Anniversary Ten Years Of Hits ● CD $11.98
22 songs recorded between 1972 and 1982 - We Can Make It/ A Picture Of Me/ What My Woman Can't Do/ Once You've Had The Best/ Old King Kong/ I'llJust Take It Out In Love , etc

GEORGE JONES Epic EK 39899 First Time Live ● CD $9.98
Nice set recorded live at Music Village in Hendersonville, Tennessee in October, 1984. George is in good form and good spirits on this set - No Show Jones/ Fox on the Run/ I'm Not Ready Yet/ Medley of Old Hits, etc

GEORGE JONES Epic EK 40776 Superhits ● CD $11.98
Nice idea to pull together some of George's best 80s work with Billy Sherrill, including the still haunting Grand Tour from 1974 along with the now classic He Stopped Loving Her Today (1980), Bartender's Blues/ Tennessee Whiskey and the more recent Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes . Stupid idea to include the upteenth remake of White Lightnin'/ Why Baby Why/ Window Up Above and A Picture Of Me (Without You) . As usual for major labels, they fail to mention anywhere on the album sleeve that the latter four songs are remakes. (RK)

GEORGE JONES Epic-Legacy E2K 52451 The Essential George Jones - The Spirit Of Country ● CD $24.98
Two CD career retrospective featuring 44 songs. 32 page book includes detailed notes by Rich Kienzle, song info and rare and historic pictures.

GEORGE JONES Hollywood HCD 110 Sings Leon Payne ● CD $8.98
Compact disc reissue of Musicor 3204 from 1971 less two songs. One of country's greatest voices sings the songs of one of the greatest songwriters. Includes They'll Never Take Her Love From me/ Blue Side Of Lonseome/ With Half A Heart/ Let A Little Lovin' Come In/ The Selfishness In man, etc. Satisfactory sound.

GEORGE JONES MCA MCAD 10398 And Along Came Jones ● CD $9.98
Earlier this year Jones left Epic Records, where he'd been making classics with producer Billy Sherrill for 20 years, being one of the few country artists Sherrill didn't screw up with the schlock formula production. Now, aided by Randy Travis's producer Kyle Lehning, George has his finest new album in years. Lehning really hasn't changed much since the basic fiddle and steel sound George used for years is again part of the mainstream. This reaffirmation of his musical roots includes domestic tragedies ("Where the Tall Grass Grows" "She Loved A Lot In Her Time" and the masterful "You Couldn't Get The Picture"), flippant honkytonkers ("Honky Tonk Myself to Death") deliberately wretched novelties ("Heckel and Jeckel"), and ballads dripping with pain ("I Don't Go Back Anymore," "Come Home to Me" and "Angels Don't Fly"). Ray Price and Jones co-wrote "You Done Me Wrong," a hit for Price in 1956 (the original's on the Columbia Ray Price anthology previously reviewed in this newsletter). At 60, seemingly free of the bottle for good, George remains country music's greatest singer. This album proves it. (RK)

GEORGE JONES Razor & Tie RE 2065 Homecoming In Heaven ● CD $11.98
12 tracks, 33 min, recommended. This reissue of U.A. 6219, also from 1962, seemingly has George welcoming and talking to God in a place halfway between heaven and a honky-tonk. These 12 gospel tunes, with Peace In The Valley & Wings Of A Dove reprised from the previous Country Cousins LP (U.A. 6218), show our hard-living country singer praising the lord for showing him the righteous path, courtesy of songs from fellow honky-tonkers, J.P "Big Bopper" Richardson, Darrell Edwards, & Willie Nelson. Would that life was so easy. While not as convincing as his tearjerkers, and with hokier arrangements, about a trillion times more palatable than the Amy Grants of the world. (JM)

GEORGE JONES & GENE PITNEY Bear Family BCD 15790 George Jones & Gene Pitney ● CD $21.98
31 tracks 77 minutes. fans only
In 1965 producer Pappy Daily had moved George Jones, his # 1 cash cow, from United Artists to the new Musicor label. Musicor was also the home of melodramatic pop singer Gene Pitney, known for true pop classics as Town Without Pity and 24 Hours from Tulsa. Daily and Musicor President Art Talmadge (a former United Artists exec) put the label's two biggest artists together for four Nashville sessions together. 20 songs, or nearly two LP's worth of material. It seems that the honkytonk king and the teen pop idol got along well enough, singing in their own styles. It's a reach, however, to call the results worthwhile. Jones fans won't find anything bad, and Pitney fans won't be offended either, except for a dreadful Louisiana Man with honking tenor sax. There's simply not much going on here but garden variety Nashville sound fare of the mid-60's. Filling out the album are George's solo hit version of Love Bug and Pitney's entire solo country effort, The Country Side of Gene Pitney, recorded in Nashville with the Jordanaires. Most of it's not even as good as the other material, at worst, Pitney's voice, strong on pop material suited to him, is often gratingly abrasive, particularly on I Can't Stop Loving You. The logic behind the music is seldom hinted at and at best, Michael McCall's notes are shallow and unrevealing by Bear Family standards (couldn't he have talked to Pitney?). In the end, there's nothing here that anyone can't live without, except for hardcore Jonesphiles or Pitney freaks. (RK)

GEORGE JONES & TAMMY WYNETTE Tee Vee 6005 The President And The First Lady ● CD $10.98
20 tracks, 52 mins, recommended In the 70s George and Tammy had hit after hit with many soulful songs and this 20 track collection features a terrific selection. Highlights, for me, include (We're Not) The Jet Set/ Someone I Used To Know/ After The Fire Is Gone and We're Gonna Hold On. Other fine songs include Take Me/ We Loved It Away/ Livin' On Easy Street/ Golden Ring and others. The only real clinker si the maudlin The Ceremony. (FS)

GRANDPA JONES King KSCD 5102 28 Greatest Hits ● CD $10.98
Retrospective of Grandpa's King recordings - Mountain Dew/ Eight More Miles To Louisville/ Old Rattler/ Time, Time, Time, Time/ You Done Me Mean & Hateful/ Chicken Don't Roost Too High/ Are You From Dixie/ Old Rattler's Treed Again/ Our Fathers Had Religion, etc.

GRANDPA JONES MCA MCAD 10549 Country Music Hall Of Fame Series ● CD $10.98
Though Uncle Dave's sound was similar to that of Grandpa, since both sang and strummed five-string banjos, but Jones developed his own style independently. Without question, Grandpa's essential recordings are those he cut for King Records from 1946-1952, most of them unavailable. This set of his complete 1956-1958 Decca recordings includes one of only two chart hits he had in his entire career: the satiric, Elvis-inspired All American Boy (a hit for Bobby Bare under the name Bill Parsons). The rest of the Decca sides were varied, ranging from new versions of King sides like Mountain Dew and Eight More Miles to Louisville, original compositions and novelties. One tune, Falling Leaves, is issued here for the first time. Since he cut only 15 songs, to fill out the collection, a never-heard live version of Cindy from a 1956 Grand Ole Opry performance rounds this set, one of the better ones in this group of releases, out. (RK)

GRANDPA JONES Omni 1443 Makes The Rafters Ring/ Yodeling Hits ● CD $17.98
32 tracks, 77 mins, highly recommended
Grandpa Jones, one of the mainstays of the Grand Ole Opry and television's Hee Haw gets the re-issue treatment from Omni. This CD compiles two albums Jones recorded for Monument Records in the early 60's - "Grandpa Jones Makes the Rafters Ring" (1962) and "Grandpa Jones Sings Yodeling Hits" (1963). The first is mostly re-recordings of his King Records material-notably I Guess You Don't Remember Now and It's Raining Here This Morning -with hotshot musicians like Jerry Byrd and Merle Travis. The second is a collection of yodel numbers-mostly written by Jimmie Rodgers-that were cut due to the success of his 1962 hit T For Texas. Both albums are milestones in Jones' recording career and this deluxe edition includes-in addition to songs remastered from the original Monument master tapes-exclusive liner notes, rare photos, a couple of bonus LP cuts and rare 45 sides. This is the first time these albums have appeared on CD and, is a fine companion to earlier releases on B.A.C.M. and Ace. (GMC)

GRANDPA JONES & THE BROWNS FERRY FOUR King 822 16 Gospel Songs ● CD $9.98
Recorded in 1940s with The Delmore Bros., Red Foley and occasionally Merle Travis as part of the group.

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