Wednesday, 31 December 2008

George Jones - Burn Your Playhouse Down: The Unreleased Duets

George Jones - Burn Your Playhouse Down: The Unreleased Duets Bandit Records

01 You And Me And Time (With Georgette Jones)
02 The Window Up Above (With Leon Russell)
03 She Once Lived Here (With Ricky Skaggs)
04 Rockin' Years (With Dolly Parton)
05 Burn Your Playhouse Down (With Keith Richards)
06 Selfishness In Man (With Vince Gill)
07 Tavern Choir (With Jim Lauderdale)
08 I Always Get It Right With You (With Shelby Lynne)
09 When The Grass Grows Over Me (With Mark Chesnutt)
10 I Always Get Lucky With You (With Mark Knopfler)
11 You're Still On My Mind (With Marty Stuart)
12 Lovin' You, Lovin' Me (With Tammy Wynette)

As you might guess from the subtitle, Burn Your Playhouse Down is a collection of unreleased duets between George Jones and a range of star guests. The album ranges from the mid 70's to the present day but most of the dozen tracks here were rejects from the Bradley Barns Sessions in the early 90's. Fans might find the opening and closing tracks the most intriguing, as they're a couple of special family moments. The closer is a recently discovered 1977 duet with wife of the time, Tammy Wynette. Whilst it doesn't measure up to their biggies, it's interesting nonetheless. One of their most productive moments of this time saw the birth of their only daughter, Georgette. As a country singer you couldn't come from better stock and she shows she's more than capable of living up to the billing with the great opener, You And Me And Time. It's pure country music and at times she sounds a bit like her mum - don't get me wrong, she has her own voice and I like it.

The rest of the album is a roller coaster of highs and lows. Mark Chesnutt is a class act and him and George sound like kindred spirits on When The Grass Grows Over Me. In the same category you can place the shamefully underrated Shelby Lynne who matches the Possum on I Always Get It Right With You. Tavern Choir with Jim Lauderdale sounds like it came from the late 70's and is another gem. When Bradley barns CD came out in 1994 my favourite cuts were Good Year For The Roses with Alan Jackson and One Woman Man with Marty Stuart. Well that partnership is the best one here as well. You're Still On My Mind sees George reaching all the notes he can. Marty Stuart always seems to get the best of out others in these type of projects. I wonder if it's because they appreciate his scholarly knowledge of the music and want to prove themselves to him.

I was left fairly cold by the duets with Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill - their talent is obviously unquestionable but the material isn't the best. Leon Russell's vocal on The Window Up Above denied me hearing George because I had to press the skip button. He nearly makes Van Morrison sound good. The Mark Knopfler track is good, George knows his way around this song, but MK's vocals are really up to it. I'd prefer it if he played more guitar and left the singing to the Master. Surprise package has to be the title track with Keith Richards. Two smoky vocalists having fun, I wonder how much whiskey was downed in the process. Special mention as well to the cover picture from the mid-70s. It's a wonderful study of the man. Some go for the flat-top look of the early days, personally I love this look.

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