George Jones

Country Song Hits

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Reissued in its entirety for the first time, Country Song Hits is the 1957 debut LP by the legendary George Jones. In 1954, Jones recorded his first single for Texas-based Starday Records, beginning his association with mentor and producer H.W. "Pappy" Daily. After scoring Jones' first hit in 1955 with "Why Baby Why," Starday co-founder Jack Starnes and Daily felt the pressure to release an LP before the increasingly popular singer outgrew their fledging label. Pulling from Jones' early singles, including "Why Baby Why," they managed to add enough material to make a 14-song record that would serve as both Jones' and the label's debut long-player. These early gems owe a lot to the influence of the great honky tonk stars Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell. The smooth-voiced star who would become known as "The Possum" had not yet emerged and there is a charming roughness to the performances. Songs like "It's OK" and "Hold Everything" are rife with the spirit and charm of a 25-year-old singer finding his voice and the reedy fiddle and barroom piano accompaniment suit him well. With Jones making a name for himself at the Grand Ole Opry and co-headlining the Louisiana Hayride with Elvis Presley, Starday made the decision to sign a distribution deal with Mercury Records. Not long after the release of Country Song Hits, Jones' Texas era came to an end as Daily moved operations to Nashville where they began recording music under the Mercury banner. A long and storied career would soon follow, but this excellent reissue takes us back to the Possum's mid-'50s origins with some classic early honky tonk.

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