There have been many George Jones collections over the years, and many of them have concentrated on his early recordings for Mercury (often including some Starday sides, which Mercury acquired). Given that surplus of comps, it's easy to be suspicious of another new collection of Mercury sides, but Mercury/Chronicles' 2004 The Definitive Collection 1955-1962 isn't an average, run-of-the-mill comp, it's the best single-disc distillation of Jones' seminal early work. Running a generous 22 tracks, this contains all of the big hits and usual suspects from the Starday/Mercury vaults: "Why Baby Why," "Just One More," "Cup of Loneliness," "Color of the Blues," "If I Don't Love You (Grits Ain't Groceries)," "White Lightning," "Who Shot Sam," "Big Harlan Taylor," "You're Still On My Mind," "The Window Up Above," "Tender Years," "Achin' Breakin' Heart," and "She Thinks I Still Care." All these may be on the more extensive double-disc set Cup of Loneliness, but no other single disc contains all of them, nor is any other single-disc Mercury comp is quite as listenable as this. Sure, there are good songs missing -- for instance, "Tall Tall Trees" should have been here -- but it's hard to argue with what's included, and there's no finer concise summary of this timeless music than this.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine