A Picture Of Me (Without You) & Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You)
It is surely impossible to overrate the importance of George Jones to modern music, with his long, somewhat chequered career that nevertheless netted him some 150 hit records, his numerous marriages and divorces, and his more enduring relationship with the bottle. Two George Jones LPs from his troubled 1970’s on one CD is still too good an offer to pass up, and those good people at Morello have done the honours.
‘A Picture of Me (Without You)’ begins with the eponymous title track, a piano stroll with simple words, gently crooned. ‘The Man worth Lovin’ You’s lively tune doesn’t turn away totally from the country singer’s standard yearning, but perhaps George’s voice isn’t up to the swell in the tune. ‘She Knows What She’s Crying About’ would win few points for sensitivity from the ladies, but does show a vulnerable side, among the bravado of the lyric.
It’s ‘Second Handed Flowers’ which takes an early prize for a strong, regretful lament, a mawkish tale of a man who goes on a visit to an old girlfriend, only to find he’s not the only one with flowers in his hand. ‘That Singing Friend of Mine’s tall tales, heavenly choir and a clear indication as to the subject of the song, possesses an element of comedy that lightens the collection nicely. ‘She Loves Me (Right out Of My Mind)’s slow, sweet tribute to the distaff side has a few strange key changes to prepare you for the sorrowful ending.
‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ would win few points from the soon to be married, and its basic hopeless message may be a step too far even for aficionados lovelorn country-style, leaving it to the wistful, pleasant, ‘Another Way To Say Goodbye’ to bring us back into something like a comfort zone. ‘On The Back Row’s guitar twanger has more going for it than meets the ear, with its slightly misleading title and its faint hope of reconciliation, is hokey, yet touching.
‘Let there be a Woman’s religious references may put off many of you born outside of the Bible Belt, but ‘We Found a Match’s down home simple metaphor for new-found love would warm the heart of even an old curmudgeon like me.
Segueing straight into LP2, ‘Nothing Ever Hurt Me (As Bad As Losing You)’ sets up a jokey hoe-down, and it’s all the better for it. ‘You’re Looking At A Happy Man’s song of freedom from a bad woman might not sit too neatly in the Gospel style it’s played in, but it’s cheerful and it has a fine guitar part to stretch your legs to. ‘Never having you’ continues the happy tone, a routine strummer but not unpleasant. After all this uncharacteristic country jollity, ’Made For The Blues’ comes as a jarring but welcome change, the sad harmonica and plodding beat underlining the inevitability of feelin’ blue.
‘What’s Your Mama’s Name?’ is played as a heartfelt tale of love and longing, in the way only Country can. ‘Mom And Dad’s Waltz’ tugs at the heartstrings (again) in something that’s more a tale of child estrangement than everlasting love. ‘You’ll Never Grow Old (To Me)’s backhanded compliment works well, although another plodder when it comes to rhythm, and ‘What My Woman Can’t Do’ turns cynicism on its head for a genuine, and long overdue tribute to the womenfolk. ‘My Loving Wife’ follows straight after, and it would take a lady with a tolerant sense of humour to see the funny side of this man’s dissipated ways.
‘Love Lives Again’s expectation of eternally renewing love can’t be faulted for its optimism, the LP ending with ‘Wine (You’ve Used Me Long Enough)’ a bitter lament for an old lover. George ain’t kiddin’ ‘bout it, neither. BUY HERE!