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My Very Special Guests (Legacy Edition)

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Album Review

When George Jones recorded his duets album My Very Special Guests in 1977 and 1978 with producer Billy Sherrill, he was a legend, but his reputation for carousing and blowing off gigs was overshadowing his talent. This album and its successor, I Am What I Am, changed Jones' fortunes professionally even if his personal life didn't come under control until later. This document is a testament to Jones' virtually indestructible voice and his ability to stay true to his vision as the fortunes and focus of commercial country music were rapidly changing. Sony Legacy's reissue is a double-disc set containing a sprawling 38 tracks from the 1970s through the '90s that showcases the album in the context of other duets Jones recorded for various projects — his own albums, his appearances on other artists' recordings, and compilations. This remaster of the original album is glorious. Duets with Tammy Wynette, Linda Ronstadt, Elvis Costello, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, and Pops and Mavis Staples are among the finest of his career. Disc one gets rounded off with an additional eight cuts including "A Few Ole Country Boys" with Randy Travis from the latter's Heroes and Friends set, and "Wonderful World Outside" from Ralph Stanley's Saturday Night & Sunday Morning. And the simply awesome "You Don't Seem to Miss Me" with Patty Loveless was a smash form her Long Stretch of Lonesome offering in 1997. Disc two's standouts include Jones with Alan Jackson ("A Good Year for the Roses"), Loretta Lynn ("We Sure Make Good Love"), Johnny Cash ("I Got Stripes"), Merle Haggard ("Yesterday's Wine"), and Travis Tritt ("The Race Is On"). All of what is here has been released before, and some of it doesn't hold up. Still it's good to have it all collected as a-mostly-superlative document of Jones as a continuous power and creative influence on other vocalists. The CD is packed with session photos, and features a great set of notes by Holly George-Warren.

Biography

Born: 12 September 1931 in Beaumont, 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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My Very Special Guests (Legacy Edition), George Jones
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