George Jones

A Picture of Me (Without You)

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Perhaps even George Jones doesn't know how many records he's cut over the course of his career and, given the assembly-line production methods that were the order of the day in Nashville from the '50s through the '70s, a great Jones album was often a matter of fate rather than careful design -- if Ol' Possum got a batch of good songs that week and was working with a producer who wasn't an utter schlockmeister, then maybe Jones would get the great album he deserved. A Picture of Me (Without You) was one such album where Jones lucked into something sublime; it was one of his first sets with producer Billy Sherrill, and while Sherrill's fondness for glossy surfaces wouldn't immediately seem compatible with Jones' hard honky tonk soul, he managed to give these sessions a low-key, late-night feel that was a fine match for the bluesy tone of Jones' voice. And the Music Row publishers sent a stack of really good demos while they were putting together A Picture of Me (Without You). The title cut is one of Jones' best songs on his favorite theme, failed romance (as are "Another Way to Say Goodbye" and "Tomorrow Never Comes"), "Second Handed Flowers" is a fine story-song from Tom T. Hall, "That Singing Friend of Mine" is just gutsy enough to overcome its innate sentimentality, and "She Loves Me (Right Out of My Mind)" communicates the thrill and despair of a love affair with no future. And as a singer, Jones was at the top of his form when he cut this album; if you want to know why Gram Parsons called Jones "the king of broken hearts," one spin of A Picture will tell you all you need to know. While it's a bit less ambitious than later albums like The Battle and The Grand Tour in terms of fine songs sung with beauty and feeling, Jones albums rarely get much better than A Picture of Me (Without You).

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