George Jones

Burn Your Playhouse Down: The Unreleased Duets

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The subtitle of Burning Your Playhouse Down makes plain that this compilation rounds up scraps from the Possum's vaults -- unreleased cuts not from the '60s or '70s, but a more recent vintage, as this relies on recordings from the '90s and beyond. Much of the album gathers up leftovers from 1994's The Bradley Barn Sessions, which was designed as a superstar duet album, so there are plenty of discards left behind, including the title track with Keith Richards, one of the better cuts here, as it has a loose honky tonk vibe. It's no coincidence that the sloppiest vocalist here spurs on the liveliest performance. Apart from an appealingly faithful "You're Still on My Mind" with Marty Stuart, everything else here is crisp, clean, and tasteful -- even Leon Russell's piano feels pristinely digital on "The Window Up Above" -- nothing objectionable, but nothing memorable, either. With the exception of the Keith and Marty tunes -- and the new "You and Me and Time," a duet with Jones' daughter Georgette where George gladly takes a back seat, thereby turning it into a sweet coming-out party for his kid -- it's all too clear why these recordings never saw the light of day in the first place, as they're merely outtakes, not good enough to make it onto the finished product.

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