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George Jones

Live Recordings from the Louisiana Hayride – 2004 (Scena)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

This is another entry in Scena Records' Louisiana Hayride series, and it's another good one. The disc offers 16 George Jones performances, and they fall into two distinct groups. The first 8 are taken from Hayride appearances in 1956, 1958, and 1960 - the outset of Jones' career. The remainder are drawn from a 1968 show (all 6 of the songs Jones played that night are included), and 1 that took place in early 1969.

It's illuminating to compare the two sets of tracks. The early recordings show the hillbilly Jones in action, playing "You Gotta Be My Baby," Color of the Blues" and other Starday and Mercury hits. By the time of the second group of performances, the classic, hard country Jones has emerged, and the renditions of "Walk Through This World With Me," "Say It's Not You" and "She Thinks I Still Care" captured here reveal the developing, one-of-a-kind vocal sound, characteristics, and style that he was already becoming famous for. (The recording of "Things Have Gone to Pieces," which Jones introduces as "a sad, slobberin' tearjerker," also captures his longstanding tendency to goof around on those tearjerkers in concert).

Live recordings of early George Jones have been almost non-existent, so these are of interest for the snapshot they provide of Jones onstage in that era. They're great performances in their own right, too.