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George Jones -
My Very Special Guests (Legacy Edition)
On Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY BMG Music Entertainment
by Cheryl Harvey Hill

The list of artists who sing with George Jones on My Very Special Guests (Legacy Edition) reads like the ultimate guide to twentieth century music icons; and not just within the country genre. This two-disc set has the original album's ten songs PLUS twenty-seven additional duets. Yep, twenty-seven. Among the eclectic group of artists singing with Jones, are Willie, Alan Jackson, Elvis Costello, Waylon, B.B. King, Tammy Wynette, James Taylor, Ray Charles; and these are just a few of the famous names. Once you've listened to both CDs the math is easy. Ten duets, plus twenty-seven duets equals thirty-seven noteworthy, marvelous, albeit historical, musical duos. When they included "legacy" in the title, they knew what they were doing. And in this case, the legacy isn't just a simple bequest, it truly is a gift. Don't take my word for it, take a look at the complete song list below; it really does read like a "Who's Who in Music."

Even if you aren't a fan of George Jones -- and I have heard rumors that there really are some folks who aren't; as inconceivable as that seems for those of us who grew up listening to the Ol Possum -- do yourself a favor and pick up this double disc set. You won't be disappointed since there truly is something for everybody on this album and as if the magnificent vocal harmonies weren't enough, they loaded up the album with some of the most spectacular instrumentals you'll ever hear. The result is pure unadulterated musical bliss. Whether it's Charlie Daniels fantastic fiddle on "Fiddle and Guitar Band", the really soulful harmonica on the delightful, two-stepper "If I Could Bottle This Up" with Shelby Lynne, or the weeping peddle steel blending with the harmonica when Lynn Anderson takes the lead on "If you Can Touch Her at All;" it's all good. Many of these songs were recorded when the vocals and the instrumentals were simply recorded; without studio modification and/or enhancement. Perhaps it is that purity that adds the extra dimension and depth of feeling to these wonderful songs.

Although I enjoy all kinds of music, anyone who reads our features regularly, knows that I'm a die-hard traditional country music fan so when Waylon's melodious voice delivered the first verse of "Night Life" through my speakers; well, I was hooked. I poured myself a tall glass of iced tea, got comfy on the patio swing, kicked off my shoes, propped up my feet and got ready to take a casual stroll down memory lane. For the next two hours I tried to refrain from looking at the liner notes and chose to guess who the artists were. I have to confess that it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be to identify who was singing with Jones and there were plenty of really nice surprises. It appears that almost everybody has a little bit of country music in their soul and, perhaps surprising to some; Jones is really great at harmonizing with almost every one. 

There is really no way I could pick a favorite from this set since the song selection was so diverse but I have to admit that "Here We Are" with, the always vocally splendid, Emmylou Harris was pure perfection and "Bartender's Blues" was especially enjoyable since Jones sings in delightful harmony with James Taylor who actually wrote the song for, the now infamous, "No Show Jones" back in the 70's. Their vocal keenness is effectively accentuated by the delightful instrumentals on this song. Pure country.
The press release that accompanied the CD says that the 27 added tracks "were selected with an ear toward preserving the spirit of the original." If you have ever been to the Opry or a honky tonk or any live concert in a small, intimate venue, then you know what the ambiance is like. If that is what they were shooting for in the production area, they succeeded. Great stuff.


WARNING! The new version of this CD will be in stores on June 14. Be careful if you want to try and pre-order it online that you don't accidentally order the 1991 version which only had 9 songs on it.

Disc one
1. Night Life — with Waylon Jennings
2. Bartender’s Blues — with James Taylor
3. Here We Are — with Emmylou Harris       
4. I’ve Turned You To Stone — with Linda Ronstadt     
5. It Sure Was Good — with Tammy Wynette     
6. I Gotta Get Drunk — with Willie Nelson
7. Proud Mary — with Johnny Paycheck
8. Stranger In The House — with Elvis Costello
9. I Still Hold Her Body (But I Think I’ve Lost Her Mind) — with Dennis & Ray of Dr. Hook
10. Will The Circle Be Unbroken — with Pop and Mavis Staples
11. A Few Ole Country Boys — with Randy Travis
12. It Hurts As Much In Texas (As It Did In Tennessee) — with Ricky Van Shelton
13. You Never Looked That Good When You Were Mine — with Patti Page
14. All I Want To Do In Life — with Janie Fricke     
15. Wonderful World Outside — with Ralph Stanley
16. You Can’t Do Wrong And Get By — with Ricky Skaggs
17. You Don’t Seem To Miss Me — with Patty Loveless
18. Patches — with B.B. King
Disc Two
1. A Good Year For The Roses — with Alan Jackson
2. Yesterday’s Wine — with Merle Haggard
3. Our Love Was Ahead Of Its Time — Deborah Allen
4. We Sure Make Good Love — with Loretta Lynn
5. Size Seven Round (Made Of Gold) — with Lacy J. Dalton
6. I Got Stripes — with Johnny Cash
7. Fiddle And Guitar Band — with Charlie Daniels
8. We Didn’t See A Thing — with Ray Charles, featuring Chet Atkins
9. The Love Bug — with Vince Gill
10. Love’s Gonna Live Here — with Buck Owens
11. If I Could Bottle This Up — with Shelby Lynne
12. If You Can Touch Her At All — with Lynn Anderson
13. All That We’ve Got Left — with Vern Gosdin   
14. This Bottle (In My Hand) — with David Allan Coe
15. Talking To Hank — with Mark Chesnutt      
16. Never Bit A Bullet Like This — with Sammy Kershaw
17. The Race Is On — with Travis Tritt     
18. I’ve Been There — with Tim Mensy     
19. Traveller’s Prayer — with Sweethearts Of The Rodeo

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