This 2007 two-fer from American Beat combines two LPs George Jones and Tammy Wynette recorded as partners in life and music: 1970's We Go Together and 1973’s Let's Build a World Together. Only three years separate these two albums, but it was a period that produced plenty of tumult, much of which made it to the grooves, so they make for a good pair as a CD: within these two albums, it’s possible to trace their love bloom and wilt.
We Go Together appeared late in 1971, three years into George and Tammy’s marriage, and just after Jones finally wrestled himself out of his constricting contract with Pappy Dailey’s Musicor label. Celebrating his newfound independence, Jones dove into this project, even co-writing two songs with his wife, a virtually unheard of situation for the consummate country singer. One of the reasons George didn’t write much is because he’s not much of a writer as “It’s So Sweet”-- one of his two collaborations with Wynette -- illustrates, but the rest of the record is solid, thanks in part to three re-recorded tunes: the other Tammy co-write “Never Grow Cold,” “Take Me,” and Jack Clement’s “Someone I Used to Know,” but drawing most of its strength from George and Tammy’s easy, natural chemistry which is evident and ebullient despite the sometimes-rocky material.
Delivered almost three years and three duet albums later, 1973’s Let’s Build a World Together could hardly be described as joyful, despite such cheerful moments as “The World Needs a Melody.” Given knowledge of George and Tammy’s deteriorating marriage, it’s perhaps a little bit too easy to read between the lines on this LP, thinking that its dour, perfunctory nature is down to the growing rift between the two singers, and while its true that the duo isn’t nearly as cheerful as they were on We Go Together, the record’s inertia is due to a largely lackluster set of songs -- there are covers of the Louvin’s “When I Stop Dreaming” and the turn-of-the-decade MOR standard “My Elusive Dreams," but no charting singles -- that feel none the livelier underneath Billy Sherrill’s production, one of his syrupiest of the time. Given the high level of talent involved, Let’s Build a World Together is certainly listenable, but it’s also lulling, drifting into dullness before it reaches the end of its second side, proving that the creative relationship between George and Tammy was as spent as their marriage.