George Jones

Live with the Possum

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Arriving a mere five months after George Jones' much-hyped Asylum debut, Cold Hard Truth -- a record that was touted as his return to hardcore country -- Live With the Possum, his second Asylum outing, seemed on the surface to be a live equivalent of its studio predecessor, but it's not. It's a rushed, cheaply packaged release that simply replicates the 1994 video Live in Tennessee. Jones gives a good journeyman performance, balancing classic hits with a couple of latter-day numbers ("She Loved a Lot in Her Time," "The One I Loved Back Then [The Corvette Song]"). It's not an exceptional performance, though, and its sudden, unannounced CD release is a little puzzling -- especially since the album sounds as if it was directly transferred from a laser disc. It seems as if Alan Jackson's intro to "No Show Jones" was taped from a TV, while other parts of the mix sound a bit off. The only thing that appears to be changed is the crowd noise, which seem to be enhanced (the end result is that it sounds like everyone in the audience is on the verge of hysteria, as if they were teenage girls watching the Backstreet Boys). The audio transfer is disarming, as is the very appearance of the disc -- there's no mention anywhere on the disc that this is indeed Live in Tennessee, the cover looks as if it was assembled a half-hour before it went to the printer, and there are no liner notes. This wouldn't be so bad if it was a budget-line release from a fly-by-night operation, but this is Jones' second album for Asylum and it's not unreasonable to expect more, given that his association with the label was supposed to be a dignified affair. If you can ignore all of the disc's shortcomings and just concentrate on the performance, Live With the Possum is reasonably entertaining, but it's not an essential release -- just something for the hardcore fans, who probably have the video already.

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