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All-Time Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (Re-Recorded Versions)

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Album Review

Epic's 1977 album All-Time Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 boasts a misleading title and concept of epic proportions. Yes, almost all of these ten songs are big hits and these recordings were made during his tenure at the label, but therein lies the contradiction: These songs were hits early in his career, originally released on Starday, Mercury, or United Artists, not on Epic. There isn't a song here that was a hit for Jones while he was on Epic, so it doesn't even function as a good overview of his first hits for the label. All this means that this album is worthless as a hits collection, but as an album it's kind of interesting since it does find an older George Jones doing good reinterpretations aided by one of his best producers, Billy Sherrill. The uptempo stuff doesn't fare particularly well — young Jones was wild-eyed and crazy, giving "The Race Is On," "White Lightning," and "Why Baby Why" real kick; here they sound harnessed — but the ballads (which account for most of the record) are satisfying, since Sherrill's productions give them languid, luxurious settings and Jones is in typically good voice. On occasion, the songs gain resonance by being delivered by an older, nuanced singer (this is especially true of "The Window Up Above" and "She Thinks I Still Care"), which is the main reason collectors may want to pick this up — and, even though this is targeted to a mass audience, given the curiosity of this collection, that indeed winds up being the market for this collection.


Born: 12 September 1931 in Saratoga, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

By most accounts, George Jones was the finest vocalist in the recorded history of country music. Initially, he was a hardcore honky tonker in the tradition of Hank Williams, but over the course of his career he developed an affecting, nuanced ballad style. In the course of his career, he never left the top of the country charts, even as he suffered innumerable personal and professional difficulties. Only Eddy Arnold had more Top Ten hits, and Jones always stayed closer to the roots of hardcore country....
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