George Jones

The Complete '60s Duets

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In 1965, Musicor Records had the brilliant idea of pairing two of the label's top-selling artists for a duet record. It didn't really matter that the dramatic delivery of pop singer Gene Pitney and the smooth voice of country crooner George Jones weren't the most logical pairing -- the very novelty of the act made it worth doing, since it could sell records. And sell records it did, resulting in a handful of country hits during the course of 1965. The fact that these singles charted on the country side of the fence, not the pop, illustrates that it was Pitney who bent to Jones' way, heading down to Nashville to record with Jones' manager/producer, Pappy Daily. They recorded two sessions in 1965 -- one in January, one in June -- cutting several standards and several new tunes, highlighted by Ted Daffan's "I've Got Five Dollars and It's Saturday Night," which peaked at 16 on the country charts. These sessions, a total of 17 songs, are collected on Varese's 2005 compilation George Jones & Gene Pitney: The Complete '60s Duets. All the passing years haven't made the pairing of Jones and Pitney any less strange: Pitney never sounds like a natural fit with Jones and country music, and his high, keening voice always winds up being the center of attention, even when he tries to just ease into the proceedings. That doesn't mean he's a bad fit, though -- he's a sympathetic duet partner and picks up the nuances of country vocal delivery, and he sounds comfortable here. Of course, Jones also sounds comfortable -- he never sounded awkward in his entire career (unless you count High-Tech Redneck) -- and the music is good, straight-ahead '60s commercial country. Apart from "I've Got Five Dollars," there are no classics and it's hard not to shake the feeling that this is a bit of novelty, but this is still enjoyable music for fans of either George Jones or Gene Pitney. (For those who already own Bear Family's 1994 compilation George Jones & Gene Pitney, this isn't necessary: that set contains all 17 duets, plus 13 country tunes cut by Pitney during 1965, as well as Jones' 1965 hit "Love Bug.")

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:12 Amazon
2 02:48 Amazon
3 02:51 Amazon
4 02:22 Amazon
5 02:27 Amazon
6 02:13 Amazon
7 02:43 Amazon
8 02:42 Amazon
9 02:10 Amazon
10 02:30 Amazon
11 02:20 Amazon
12 02:26 Amazon
13 02:33 Amazon
14 02:30 Amazon
15 02:47 Amazon
16 02:43 Amazon
17 02:25 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick