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George Jones

Step Right Up 1970-1979: A Critical Anthology – 2009 (Raven)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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As retrospectives go, this new 28-track collection of George Jones' work from the 1970s is a bit of an anomaly. While most other compilations present chart-topping singles in chronological order, this single-disc set from the Australian reissue specialists at Raven Records provides an overview of Jones' total artistic output for the entire decade, regardless of chart position. This approach works well in this case because it covers songs not usually included on George Jones compilations. Longtime fans of The Possum will no doubt appreciate the first 7 tracks of the compilation, all songs originally released through Harold W. "Pappy" Daily's Musicor label - Jones' musical home from 1965-1971. Of particular note is A Good Year For The Roses, a single from 1970 that peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Country Chart.

The remainder covers Jones' notable work with producer Billy Sherrill on Epic Records. This period, characterized by emotionally-driven and introspective lyrics along with pop-style string arrangements, found Jones enjoying increased commercial success while also battling the demons of alcohol and drug abuse. This ongoing struggle with substance abuse found its way into Jones' music throughout the decade and produced some of his most memorable songs. Two such songs featured here are A Drunk Can't Be A Man and Wine (You've Used Me Long Enough).

Although 2 of Jones' number 1 singles for Epic Records in the 1970s are included, The Door, and The Grand Tour, this interesting collection is definitely focused on George Jones as an artist, not the individual songs he produced.