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George Jones

My Very Special Guests (Legacy Edition) – 2005 (Sony Legacy)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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In 1979, George Jones had put out another album: a collection of duets with various well-known guests, the sort of record often resorted to in an attempt to revive a flagging career. The idea worked well enough that Jones went to the same well again in 1984 ("Ladies Choice"), 1991 ("Friends in High Places"), and 1994 ("The Bradley Barn Sessions"). This expanded "Legacy Edition" reissue includes the original 1979 album, cherry-picks from those follow-ups, and adds sundry duets drawn from other Jones albums or guest appearances by him (that is, there isn't anything here that hasn't been previously released).

"MVSG" was a solid collection, with some truly inspired moments (Elvis Costello's first recorded indulgence of his country jones on "Stranger in My House," the stone country "Bartender's Blues" with James Taylor, a country soul rendition of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" with Pops and Mavis Staples). The appended material is more uneven, particularly that drawn from those other duet albums, which suffered from some less than stellar song choices and (in the case of the first two) what had by then become rote production on Billy Sherrill's part.

Still, some tracks - those with B.B. King, Alan Jackson, and Shelby Lynne, to single out a few - sound like they're more about the music than the event. And happily, the reissue also includes "You Don't Seem to Miss Me," from Patty -Loveless' 1997 album, which features one of the finest harmonizing performances of Jones' career.