George Jones '60s Portrait This page looks at George Jones's early work, from his hardcore honkytonk years in the 'Fifties up to his early association with countrypolitan producer Billy Sherrill in the late '60s. His recordings in the 1970s, '80s, and onward are reviewed elsewhere. Regardless of the slapdash nature of some of these early releases, original (and even not-so-original) copies of all these old albums are collector's favorites... and favorites of music fans, as well. Let's take a look.

George Jones Discography: 1955-67 | 1968-79 | 1980-1989 | 1990-Now | Best-Ofs Tributes & Links

George Jones "Country Song Hits" (Starday, 1956)
His first album, featuring well-known hits such as "Why Baby Why" and "Seasons Of My Heart," as well as blues early numbers such as "Ragged But Right," and plenty of hard-country weepers. In his youth, Jones was practically a force of nature, a rock-solid honkytonker whose uptempo tunes flirted at the edges of the new rockabilly phenomenon. Great stuff!

George Jones "Starday Presents George Jones" (Mercury, 1957)

George Jones "Country Church Time" (Mercury, 1959)

George Jones "White Lightning" (Mercury, 1959)

George Jones "George Jones Salutes Hank Williams" (Mercury, 1960)

George Jones "Country And Western Hits" (Mercury, 1961)

George Jones "Crown Prince Of Country Music" (Starday, 1961)

George Jones "Songs From The Heart" (Mercury, 1962)

George Jones & Melba Montgomery "Country Duets" (Mercury, 1962)

George Jones "The Fabulous Country Music Sound Of George Jones" (Starday, 1962)

George Jones "New Favorites" (United Artists, 1962)

George Jones & Margie Singleton "Duets -- Country Style" (Mercury, 1962) (LP)

George Jones "Sings The Hits Of His Country Cousins" (United Artists, 1962)

George Jones "Homecoming In Heaven" (United Artists, 1962)

George Jones "My Favorites Of Hank Williams" (United Artists, 1962)

George Jones "George Jones Sings Bob Wills" (United Artists, 1962)

George Jones "The Novelty Side Of George Jones" (Mercury, 1963)

George Jones "The Ballad Side Of George Jones" (Mercury, 1963)

George Jones "I Wish Tonight Would Never End" (United Artists, 1963)

George Jones & Melba Montgomery "What's In Our Heart" (United Artists, 1963) (LP)
(Produced by Pappy Daily)

The first of many duets albums between these honky-tonk gods. Songwriter Melba Montgomery signed to the United and Musicor labels in 1962, when George Jones was their biggest artist. As a result, she was often referred to as "the female George Jones." The good side to this is that she legitimately was one of the most awesome female hardcore honkytonkers ever; the bad side was that she kept on getting paired up with Ole Possum for duet records. Now, I'm as much of a Jones fan as anybody, but to my ears, the two were so similar in style and tone that they tended to cancel each other out. Still, it's cool. This one has bright production, with slow arrangements and includes their signature duet, the country classic "We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds." George's voice is still quite youthful, and when he hits the mark, it's quite nice. Take for example the gimmicky, math-oriented novelty number, "Multiply The Heartache" where Jones characteristically throws himself wholeheartedly into the most banal verses... and provides one of the best harmonizations of their long string of duets. Funny how that happens.

George Jones "More New Favorites" (United Artists, 1964)

George Jones & Melba Montgomery "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" (United Artists, 1966) (LP)
A solid album that's about one third duets, and two thirds solo vocals. Melba shines on this one, partly because she sticks to secular heartsongs, whereas George plods through gospel tracks with flat arrangements. "Hall Of Shame" and "Before She Changed Your Mind" are standouts, and of course they do a version of the Bill Monroe bluegrass classic, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky." The best duet comes towards the end, though, particularly "What's In Our Hearts," a song credited to Jones himself.

George Jones "Sings Like The Dickens" (United Artists, 1964)

George Jones "The Great George Jones" (Mercury-Wing, 1964)

George Jones "Blue And Lonesome" (Mercury, 1964)

George Jones "Country & Western Number One Male Singer" (Mercury, 1964)

George Jones "Heartaches And Tears" (Mercury, 1964)

George Jones "I Get Lonely In A Hurry" (United Artists, 1965)

George Jones "Trouble In Mind" (United Artists, 1965)

George Jones "The Race Is On" (United Artists, 1965)

George Jones & Gene Pitney "George Jones & Gene Pitney" (Musicor, 1965)
In 1965, when Jones was moved decisively over to the Musicor label, one of his first projects was a duets album with cricket-voiced teen idol Gene Pitney, who was at that time the hottest act on the label. It seemed an unlikely pairing, but it produced two albums, both cut the same year, George Jones And Gene Pitney and It's Country Time Again, each of which produced some moderate chart action, and led to a third LP of hillbilly material by Pitney, called The Country Side Of Gene Pitney. It's hard to shake Pitney's image as a chirpy, melodramatic teenpop crooner, but after a while his country side seems fairly plausible. After all, he sounds quite a bit like Hank Locklin in his youth, so what's to get riled up about, really? Although a few songs, like the novelty-tinged version of "Mockingbird Hill," sank to the kitschy depths many naysayers predicted, other tracks have surprising resonance and grit, and it's kind of fun to listen to, after a while... Certainly a change of pace in George's career.

George Jones "The King Of Broken Hearts" (United Artists, 1965)

George Jones & Gene Pitney "It's Country Time Again!" (Musicor, 1965)

George Jones "The Great George Jones" (United Artists, 1965)

George Jones "Singing The Blues" (Mercury, 1965)

George Jones "Starday Presents George Jones" (Starday, 1965)

George Jones & Melba Montgomery "Close Together As You And Me" (United Artists) (LP) *
(Produced by Pappy Daily)

George Jones & Melba Montgomery "Bluegrass Hootenanny" (United Artists 3352) (LP) *

George Jones "Book Of Memories" (United Artists, 1967)

George Jones "From The Heart" (United Artists, 1967)

George Jones Discography: 1955-67 | 1968-79 | 1980-1989 | 1990-Now | Best-Ofs Tributes & Links

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