The Greatest Work Of Country's Greatest Artist
By David Ferrell
1980 saw the comeback recording of a man who had been known for some 25 years as THE sound of Country Music. After many personal struggles with drinking and drugs, and almost being booted from Epic (the record label he recorded for at the time), not to mention many "no shows" at concerts where he was booked (and when he did show, he had often been to boozed up to even remember the words to his own songs), but now with this recording, it seemed like George was back and all of a sudden, after a long absence from the charts, everything he recorded was going #1, starting with the beginning track to this album, the incredible "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Although, Billy Sherrill obviously overproduced the song (i.e. the soaring strings in the chorus), it was still a classic... maybe the saddest country tear jerker ever written, and Jones handled it wonderfully, milking every ounce of saddness from those heartbreaking lyrics and that resitation. One somehow felt that Jones was singing about himself in regards to Tammy, speaking of which, the follow up song, "If Drinking Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)" brought the same sense of a song about his own struggle to forget Tammy and drinking to try to do so. In fact, on live appearances, he would often end the song by singing "If drinking don't kill me, Tammy's memory will."
The rest of the ten original tracks of this album are also top notch, and now, a little bonus, Epic/Sony has added four more bonus tracks, probably intended to be on the album, but for one reason or another, in 1980 they didn't make the cut (remember this is a time when an album with more than 10 tracks was unheard of)... but they're there now, and Jones sings the heck out of them, just as he does with any other song he wraps his amazing vocal chords around.
If you don't have this album, get it. If you like Country music, I mean real country music, you'll love it!
It could very well be the greatest Country album of all time.