Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
My Very Special Guests
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock, Christian
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Just a short note of correction
Burt Goldin | Orange City Florida (home of Blue Springs) | 03/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While i love this album and mostly agree with the review that immediately precedes this one, as an Elvis Costello fan i felt the need to make one correction. The song "Stranger in the House" was not written for this album. It existed as the B side of a 45 (the A side was Neat, Neat, Neat) long before it was rerecorded for this wondeful album. Other than that small factoid, i agree with the reviewer and recommend that everyone buy this Cd as it is a great effort from a true legend that features top notch performances from all involved."
It's Not Love But It's Not Bad...
Burt Goldin | 12/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yes indeed, as Merle Haggard once sang, "It's not love but it's not bad," and MY VERY SPECIAL GUESTS probably remains one of the most curious albums George Jones ever made for CBS Records. In his bio on George, Bob Allen wrote that this album featured George at his "brochitis and emphysema-ridden worst," and there is no denying that George was going through a dark period of alchohol and cocaine addiction. Released in 1978, George's record label had opted for pairing George up with many fellow country legends (Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings) and many of the top pop stars of the day (Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Elvis Costello). They threw in Pop and Mavis Staples for good measure. The results? Not as bad as many would lead you to believe.
The highlights are, as you might expect, the more "stone-country" selections. Jones and Willie Nelson fit together like a hand in a glove on "I Gotta Get Drunk" and his duet with Emmylou Harris on "Here We Are" showcases two vocal geniuses at work. The song with Ronstadt, "I've Turned You To Stone," is also endearing, and it appears that Ronstadt (who had deep roots in country music anyway) knew what not to do in recording with the Possum. The most memorable song on the record is, of course, "Bartender's Blues" with James Taylor, which Jones often performs to this day in concert. Written specifically for Jones by Taylor, their harmonies are quite magnificent (Most of the vocals on this album were overdubs, since George was pretty much drunk and MIA for most of 1977). The duet with Tammy, "It Sure Was Good," is a catchy but flimsy tune about love gone wrong, echoing their own personal relationship in the early seventies.
As to the more "experimental" aspects of the disc, there are some let-downs but also pleasant surprises. Jones duet with Johnny Paycheck on John Fogerty's "Proud Mary" is atrociously unnecessary, culled from the sessions for their duet album DOUBLE TROUBLE. Although the song is well executed, producer Billy Sherrill might have been better off going in a more traditional direction with the boys rather than exploring the late-sixties "swamp rock" sound. Similarly, George's duet with Waylon Jennings on the album's opener "Night Life" has promise but never seems to take off, although it's awesome to hear Waylon's asides during the tune ("Here comes the Possum!")
Oddly enough, the biggest surprises come from the rock stars who appear on the album. Dennis and Ray from the band Dr. Hook back up George on "I Still Hold Her Body (But I Think I've Lost Her Mind)" and the tune is solid country with Jones delivering a soulful perfomance (Check out the way he sings the last line of the song - killer!). Likewise, "Stranger In The House," with Elvis Costello, has an elusive magic to it that you would never expect from teaming up the king of new wave with the king of country soul. Costello, who wrote the song for the album and would later record "A Good Year For The Roses" and the Jones-written "The Color Of The Blues" brings the same sort of charm that Keith Richards would bring to "Say It's Not You" on THE BRADLEY BARN SESSIONS in the 1990s.
The album closes with "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" with the Staples. Despite the shortcomings of the album, it's great to hear two soulful singers like Pop Staples and George Jones singing together on the same track. MY VERY SPECIAL GUESTS may not be the best album George Jones ever made, but it's certainly not as bad as you might think. In fact, the good outweighs the bad, and for any true George Jones fan there are too many good songs here to ignore.