The music on this album is what is really happening, so the inevitable discussion of the cover will be dispensed with first. It is indeed a beautiful yet garish color picture of a country band. The jackets the guys in the band are wearing are stunning. In fact, the members of the Jones Boys get to wear nicer threads than their boss George Jones, if this album cover is any indication. That is probably just one example of what a nice guy Jones is, that is when he isn't 50 sheets to the wind. But back to the cover. Jones has a fantastic haircut, true. But it inevitably loses out to staring at the pair of glasses one of the sidemen is wearing. These are glasses that comedian Mike Myers would kill for, if only to give his satires of the '60s some authenticity. Johnny Paycheck, eventually a country star in his own right, is one of the Jones Boys, easily recognizable on both front and back cover photos. Okay, so it is one of the great country & western album covers. The music totally lives up to whatever expectations are created by this artwork. The musicians sound wonderful here, creating a sentimental old-time country sound when necessary in the devastating "I'm Wasting Good Paper" or delivering the type of twangy honky-tonk country fans associate with Bakersfield, CA, Buck Owens and his Buckaroos. The band also handles enough harmony vocal to sound like the type of vocal group that sometimes gets dragged into the studios at country & western recording sessions. The influence Jones had on Paycheck is also demonstrated, as some of the more electric and peppier numbers here could easily keep company on any of that artist's early Starday albums. The rhythm section is excellent; check out "Along Came You" or the classic "Feeling Single -- Seeing Double" for prime examples of what a good country band should sound like. The latter tune, sparked here by a guitar solo loaded with interestellar reverb, is one of several numbers here by the under-rated Nashville song craftsman Wayne Kemp. Another good Kemp number here is "I'd Rather Switch Than Fight." Of course the premier, number one attraction is the voice of Jones. The slightly strained, bluegrass-influenced high-end vocals are here, along with overwhelming dips into the baritone end and phrasing that rivals that of jazz singer Billie Holiday's, although she never got to sing a lyric such as this line from Leon Payne's "Things Have Gone to Pieces": "Someone threw a baseball through my window...." ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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