One of many songbook albums that George Jones recorded while at Musicor Records, The Great Songs of Leon Payne is one of the finest minor gems in the Possum's catalog. Though Payne's reputation as a terrific honky tonk songwriter was well-known among country music fans, he only had a handful of hits, which were often recorded by other artists. Granted, the biggest of those were Hank Williams' versions of "Lost Highway" and "They'll Never Take Her Love from Me" as well as his own "I Love You Because," but the depth of Payne's songwriting is not well-known to many casual country fans. George Jones' tribute album remedies that fact. Apart from "They'll Never Take Her Love from Me" and Jones' hit single "Things Have Gone to Pieces," these songs are all rather obscure and there's not a bad one in the bunch. From ballads like "Blue Side of Lonesome" to uptempo honky tonkers like "Brothers of a Bottle," all of the cuts on The Great Songs of Leon Payne are first-rate and Jones brings each of them to life. It's a forgotten album in Jones' catalog -- and Leon Payne's reputation has faded somewhat in the decades following his death -- but that doesn't change the fact that The Great Songs of Leon Payne is one of his best records of the '60s.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine