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George Jones

I Lived To Tell It All – 1996 (MCA)

Reviewed by Chuck Hamilton

In the liner notes George Jones tells us that he, not the record company were the big shots, picked the songs for this new album. With that kind of buildup, you might expect the "Possum" to have hit a home run, but the end result is closer to a ground rule double.

The voice, considered by many to be the best ever in country music, is in fine form. No problem with the arrangements either; they're more than adequate. What hurts this effort is the hit-and-miss quality of the songs.

The opening number, "Honky Tonk Song", sounds as generic as the title, as it dredges up one country music cliche after another. "Billy B. Bad" takes aim at Nashville's star-factory mentality, but despite good intentions and one great line ("He just tested positive for Branson"), the song's unevenness causes it to wear out its welcome after a couple of listens. "Tied to a Stone" on the other hand, shows what happens when Jones's meets up with material that's equal to his voice. Unfortunately, that occurs all too infrequently on this album.