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Country - Released July 4, 2000 | Epic - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
I Am What I Am announced that George Jones had officially returned to form artistically and, in the process, it became his biggest hit album ever. It's easy to see why -- the production is commercial without being slick, the songs are balanced between aching ballads and restrained honky tonk numbers, and Jones gives a nuanced, moving performance. "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "I'm Not Ready Yet," and "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)" were the hits, but the remaining seven album tracks are exceptionally strong, without a weak track in the bunch. It's mature country, both in the laid-back approach and subject matter, but that doesn't mean it's dull -- like the best country music, these are lived-in songs that are simple, direct, and emotionally powerful, even with the smooth production. I Am What I Am is the sound of George Jones at his peak and it's the highlight of his later years. Four bonus tracks -- "Am I Losing Your Memory or Mine?," "The Ghost of Another Man," "It's All in My Mind," and "I'm a Fool for Loving Her" -- give the 20th anniversary version of the album an added richness. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 10, 2014 | Epic

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Country - Released October 20, 2008 | Epic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You) was the second album in the George Jones/Billy Sherrill collaboration and built on the strengths of A Picture of Me (Without You). Sherrill backed off a bit on the lushness of the previous album and restrained more of Jones' honky tonk persona on the title track (by Bobby Braddock), "You're Looking at a Happy Man," and "Never Having You" (by Tom T. Hall). The up-tempo nature of the disc was the last record Jones would make like this until he recorded with Merle Haggard in the 1980s. This is not to say that ballads aren't plentiful here. There's a fine read of "What's Your Mama's Name?" by Peanut Montgomery and Dallas Frazier that Sherrill had cut with Tanya Tucker a year earlier when she was just 14, and it went straight to number one. Also, Jones' readings of "Made for the Blues" and Lefty Frizzell's "Mom and Dad Waltz" are solid, tender honky tonk ballads that offer the deep, raw emotion in the singer's best material. Tammy Wynette and Montgomery's "You'll Never Grow Old (To Me)" is a love song delivered in the classic Jones manner with Sherrill using a Phil Spector-ish approach to arrangement and layering the piano on top of a wash of strings and a meandering pedal steel. Sherrill and Jones collaborated on "What My Woman Can't Do," another of Jones' love songs, but done here in a mid-tempo honky tonk strut that is dynamite in its presentations. Here the steel is in front of everything except Jones' vocal. The strings, backing vocals, and acoustic guitar are separated to offer a sense of space in the mix. The final cut, "Wine (You've Used Me Long Enough)," was written by Jones and Wynette and is a bitter surrender song to a lover: alcohol. It was prophetic in that it was the single biggest factor in ending their marriage. This is a dynamite set that offered a solid look at what Jones and Sherrill were capable of -- and delivered -- in the coming years. ~ Thom Jurek
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Country - Released October 20, 2008 | Epic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Perhaps even George Jones doesn't know how many records he's cut over the course of his career and, given the assembly-line production methods that were the order of the day in Nashville throughout the '50s, '60s, and '70s, a great Jones album was often a matter of fate rather than careful design -- if Ol' Possum got a batch of good songs that week and was working with a producer who wasn't an utter schlockmeister, then maybe Jones would get the great album he deserved. A Picture of Me (Without You) was one such album where Jones lucked into something sublime; it was one of his first sets with producer Billy Sherrill, and while Sherrill's fondness for glossy surfaces wouldn't immediately seem compatible with Jones' hard honky tonk soul, he managed to give these sessions a low-key, late-night feel that was a fine match for the bluesy tone of Jones' voice. And the Music Row publishers sent by a stack of really good demos while they were putting together A Picture of Me (Without You); the title cut is one of Jones' best songs on his favorite theme, failed romance (as are "Another Way to Say Goodbye" and "Tomorrow Never Comes"), "Second Handed Flowers" is a fine story-song from Tom T. Hall, "That Singing Friend of Mine" is just gutsy enough to overcome its innate sentimentality, and "She Loves Me (Right Out of My Mind)" communicates the thrill and despair of a love affair with no future. And as a singer, Jones was at the top of his form when he cut this album; if you want to know why Gram Parsons called Jones "the king of broken hearts," one spin of this album will tell you all you need to know. While it's a bit less ambitious than later albums like The Battle and The Grand Tour in terms of fine songs sung with beauty and feeling, George Jones albums rarely get much better than A Picture of Me (Without You). [In 1998, it was released on CD in tandem with another solid Jones set from the early '70s, Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You).] ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released January 1, 1997 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released January 29, 2001 | Columbia

Columbia's George Jones Definitive Country Collection pales in comparison to Mercury's Definitive Collection 1955-1962 anthology, but country jukebox, slow dance classics like "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You)," as well as duets with ex-wife Tammy Wynette "Were Gonna Hold On," "We Loved It Away'" and "We Can Make It," help keep this 20-track overview fluid (like a tear in your beer) for the duration. ~ James Christopher Monger

Country - Released June 13, 2005 | Epic - Legacy

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George Jones duets with some expected country contemporaries (Tammy Wynette, Johnny Paycheck), some outlaws (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson), and, most interestingly, some up-and-coming and pop-oriented guests (Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Elvis Costello), often to beneficial effect for both. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Country - Released June 30, 2017 | Reloaded Music

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Country - Released April 1, 2003 | Concord Records

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Country - Released February 17, 2017 | New Rounder (UMG Account)

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Country - Released July 14, 2008 | Epic

Recorded at the peak of his popularity, this album is sometimes restrained, and sometimes finds Jones at his uncontrollable best. Though predominantly honky tonk ballads, the best cuts (besides the obvious hits) include: "Good Ones and Bad Ones," "Together Alone," and the raucous "You Can't Get the Hell out of Texas." ~ Tom Roland
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Country - Released June 30, 2008 | Epic

Recorded at the height of the rock & roll establishment's infatuation with George Jones in the late '70s, Bartender's Blues is one of the most uneven and misdirected albums in his catalog. Though the production is dated, leaning too close to the soft rock with its electric pianos, the main flaw with the album is the material. Apart from the excellent weeper "I'll Just Take It Out in Love," the strongest song is the forced title track, which is essentially James Taylor's impression of what life in a honky tonk must be. The remaining songs don't deal in such hackneyed clichés, but they don't have its melodic force, either. That means that the album becomes just a wash of songs, despite Jones' fine performance. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released April 23, 2013 | SINETONE AMR

Although George Jones put out an album in 1959 titled Country Church Time, and although this CD contains virtually all of the material from that LP, it's not a straight reissue of that record. First, it does not contain "My Soul's Been Satisfied" from the original LP, the liner notes' curious explanation being that "we were unable to find a good enough quality copy of the closing track." In better news, it adds a dozen bonus tracks grouped under the subtitle "more songs of depression and despair." The first half of the CD features 11 of the 12 songs from Country Church Time itself, and as you'd expect from that title, the themes are often religious in nature. Certainly you don't have to scout for the religious references in songs with titles like "Jesus Wants Me," "Take the Devil Out of Me," "My Lord Has Called Me," and "Good Old Bible." The most familiar of them to rock-grounded listeners might be "We'll Understand It," covered by the Byrds as "Farther Along" in the early '70s. But if the lyrical scope might be more limited than his usual early efforts, sonically they're well in line with his approach as he started to reach his honky tonk prime, and anyone who likes late-'50s Jones should enjoy the plaintive performances here. As for the segment subtitled "more songs of depression and despair," well, such songs comprised a big chunk of both Jones' and many other country stars' repertoire. In truth, however, they're not all that downbeat. Dating from around the same time or slightly later than the Country Church Time cuts, they're also solid honky tonk, if dealing in the main with the pitfalls of the heart rather than the trials of the soul. There's nearly an hour of good music here that draws from the more underexposed corners of Jones' quality work from this period, though not always in the best sound quality that could have been mustered. But even leaving aside the lame omission of "My Soul's Been Satisfied," the brief annotation is unsatisfactory, not supplying any recording/release dates (or even a time frame) for the dozen bonus cuts. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Asylum

Touted as George Jones' return to hardcore country, Cold Hard Truth -- the Possum's first record for the revitalized Asylum Records -- certainly does achieve that goal. Under the guidance of producer Keith Stegall, Jones returns to the sound of his classic Mercury and UA recordings, meaning that there's nothing but honky tonk ballads and ravers throughout. Impressively, Stegall made sure that Jones didn't take the easy way out: there are no covers or superstar duets, just strong new songs. And, unlike almost any of Jones' previous albums, there's not a single novelty or throwaway. In short, it's the album hardcore fans have said they've always wanted Jones to make. Like most realized fantasies, Cold Hard Truth doesn't quite live up to the imagination, yet it still delivers enough that it isn't a disappointment. Much of the credit must be given to Stegall; his production may be a bit too clean and echo-laden, but he made a wise move in adhering to simple, traditional instrumentation and guiding Jones toward a great set of songs. George sounds terrific, not necessarily better than on his latter-day MCA records, but the strength of the material makes it seem so. For all of its virtues, there's a curious distance on Cold Hard Truth, possibly because it's too careful in both its song selection, and there's no grit in the production. Silly songs and rushed performances always gave Jones' albums character, and it's hard not to miss that reckless spirit on Cold Hard Truth, no matter how good the music is. But ultimately, such complaints amount to nitpicking. There's little question that Cold Hard Truth boasts the finest set of songs Jones has had in nearly two decades, and he delivers the performances they deserve. It's refreshing to finally hear a Jones album that holds up from beginning to end. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Gospel - Released January 1, 2013 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

The first posthumous release from George Jones is an archival release that was planned prior to his death in April 2013. Amazing Grace excavates a gospel album Jones recorded in 2002 with his longtime producer and collaborator Billy Sherrill. The two parted ways in 1991 when Jones jumped from Epic to MCA. Around the same time, Sherrill slipped into retirement and by most accounts he wasn't much interested in returning to the studio, but George convinced him to produce a collection of gospel tunes. Although Jones had released several gospel albums over the years -- Homecoming in Heaven appeared on UA in 1962; ten years later We Love to Sing About Jesus appeared on Epic -- but what turned into 2003's The Gospel Collection were his first dedicated album sessions for religious work, which is noteworthy but perhaps not as noteworthy as it being the last time Jones and Sherrill worked together. Although the production is perhaps a shade too crisp and clean, all of Sherrill's hallmarks are in place -- this is dramatic and lush, filled with crystalline guitars, echoing pianos, and creamy backing vocals -- providing a nice coda to their historic collaboration. Amazing Grace contains half of the 24 songs originally released on the 2003 double-disc The Gospel Collection (and one tune, "Great Judgement Morning," is a Brian Ahern production from 1994), but it gets these very, very nice and thoroughly underappreciated recordings back into circulation, which is a good start to Jones' posthumous career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released May 26, 1987 | Epic

Anyone who has ever seen George Jones live knows that there's nothing "studio enhanced" about his awe-inspiring vocals. Jones is every bit as impressive a singer on stage as he is in the studio, a fact demonstrated by 1984's inaccurately titled FIRST TIME LIVE (LIVE AT DANCETOWN USA, on Ace Records, captures a great 1965 George Jones concert). On FIRST TIME LIVE, Jones puts his band through their paces on such standards as "The Race is On," "You Better Treat Your Man Right," and the show-stopping "He Stopped Loving Her Today." He also sings a medley of hits and performs complete versions of then-recent singles ("Tennessee Whiskey," "I'm Not Ready Yet"). Throughout, his vocals are playful and supple, with Jones dropping from his oaken tenor to a goofy bass and then soaring upward again as if it were the easiest thing in the world.
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Country - Released October 20, 2008 | Epic

The classic cover -- a picture of George alone in a diner, staring forlorn at his milk shake -- pretty much sums up the feeling of this Alone Again, a low-key, morning-after look at regret and loneliness. As always, Jones sings from the heart and from his own real life experiences dealing with the aftermath of his failed marriage. Despite a generally depressive mood, George pulls off one of his greatest novelty songs, "Her Name Is...," one of only a handful of hits he managed during his mid-70s slump. ~ Chris Woodstra
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Country - Released November 1, 2014 | RedDirt

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Country - Released October 13, 1987 | Epic

Epic's 1987 Super Hits is a budget-line sampler of George Jones' '70s and '80s work for the label -- which means, of course, that the first three songs on the album ("White Lightning," "Why Baby Why," "The Window Up Above") are not original recordings, they're remakes. Billy Sherrill-produced remakes, that is, which means they're better and more interesting than your average remakes, but they're not as good as the Starday/Mercury/UA originals (plus, they're recycled from the 1977 collection, All-Time Greatest Hits, Vol. 1). The rest of the song selection is a little hit and miss, highlighted by a four-song stretch in the middle of the record that brings you "A Picture of Me (Without You)," "The Grand Tour," "Bartender's Blues," and "He Stopped Loving Her Today." As samplers go, it's not bad, but other collections offer a fuller picture with a better song selection for about the same price, so there's no real reason to get this. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released April 7, 2017 | cappo digital