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New Morello Label Launches with Country Classics from Jones, Robbins, Dalton

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Though George Jones has introduced many of the standards of the country-and-western repertoire, his turbulent offstage life has had more ups and downs than even the most dramatic honky-tonk tune.  A Kennedy Center Honoree with fourteen Number One country hits in the U.S., the son of Saratoga, Texas has been recording since 1957 and is still going strong despite battling the bottle and engaging in many stormy relationships with women.  Though he’s been known as “No-Show Jones” for the number of missed appearances relating to those demons, Jones has showed up for the inaugural releases of Cherry Red’s Morello Records label.  The new Morello label is launching with two-fers from Jones, Marty Robbins and Lacy J. Dalton (all available now).

Elvis Costello recalled in the liner notes to his Almost Blue reissue of a scheduled session with George Jones in 1978 for which Mr. Jones never arrived: “rumour has it that he was down in Florence, Alabama, and couldn’t come into the state, as one of his more famous ex’s [sic] was looking for alimony.  But maybe they told me this just to give me a taste of the Nashville soap opera mythology…”  Costello’s visit would have fallen right during the period represented on the Morello releases.  The Grand Tour/Alone Again pairs Jones’ 1974 and 1976 albums, while Bartender’s Blues/Shine On joins releases from 1978 and 1983, respectively.  All of these are originally appeared on the Epic imprint.

Jones’ career resurgence in the 1970s has been credited to his 1969-1975 marriage to fellow superstar Tammy Wynette, a rocky romance that, alas, kept them in the tabloids.  Jones was signed to the Epic label in 1972, and found himself on the Country Top 10 with his self-titled debut there.  1974’s The Grand Tour was his fifth for the label, and the title song went all the way to No. 1.  It was his first solo No. 1 in seven years; a 1973 duet with Wynette, “We’re Gonna Hold On,” was a success despite the fallacy of the title!  On the Billy Sherrill-produced, Bergen White-arranged LP, Jones surveyed songs by Norro Wilson, Bobby Braddock, Hank Cochran and Johnny Paycheck.  With Wynette, he co-wrote the acerbic “Our Private Life” about the celebrity star-gazing culture (“We gave it up for people just like you!”).  Jones and Wynette divorced following The Grand Tour, and Morello’s series overlooks his next two Epic albums (1975’s Memories of Us and 1976’s The Battle…notice how easy it is to read into Jones’ album titles?), resuming with 1976’s aptly-titled Alone Again.  Sherrill was still at the helm of Alone Again, and it peaked at No. 9 on the country chart on the strength of No. 3 single “Her Name Is…,” penned by Braddock.  Jones offered a couple of originals (“A Drunk Can’t Be a Man” and “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Miss Me”), too, but even the songs written by others seemed to offer meaning to his life.  Jones imbued “Right Now I’d Come Back and Melt in Her Arms” and “Stand on My Own Two Knees” with the kind of deep authenticity for which he was known.  These two albums were both previously issued on one CD by Sony U.K. in 1999, but that edition fetches high prices today, so this reissue is more than welcome.

What’s on the second George Jones release from Morello?  Hit the jump for that, and more, including full track listings and pre-order links for all titles!

Morello skips over 1977’s I Wanta Sing and begins its second Jones two-fer (both titles again produced by Billy Sherrill) with 1978’s Bartender’s Blues.  Presumably Jones was more punctual than with Costello when it came time to set a date with James Taylor, who contributed and duets on the title track.  It reached No. 6 on the singles chart, and Bob McDill’s “I’ll Just Take It Out in Love” hit a not-too-shabby No. 11.  Bartender’s Blues only reached No. 34 on the chart, but subsequent efforts saw Jones’ star improbably rise once again.  1979’s  My Very Special Friends featured Jones duetting with Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette (on “It Sure Was Good”) and yes, Elvis Costello.  It was followed by two more Top 10 albums (1980’s I Am What I Am and 1981’s Still the Same Ole Me) but Morello’s disc jumps ahead to 1983 for Shine On.  The No. 7-charting LP boasted three Top 10 singles including the No. 1 “I Always Get Lucky with You,” co-written by Merle Haggard.  Drinking, was of course, on the mind with songs like “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Old George Stopped Drinkin’ Today.”  The same year Shine On was released, Jones married his fourth wife, Nancy Sepulvado.  She’s been credited with helping Jones on the road to recovery.

Though she was born in Pennsylvania, Lacy J. Dalton had the soul of the south.  Signed by Jones’ producer Billy Sherrill to Columbia Records, the husky-voiced Dalton scored hits right out of the gate in 1980 with Top 20 single “Crazy Blue Eyes” and her eponymous debut LP.  Dalton remained a steady presence on the U.S. country charts throughout the 1980s, notching numerous hit singles (including revivals of Patti Page’s “Tennessee Waltz” and Roy Orbison’s “Dream Baby”).  The most successful of them was 1981’s “Takin’ It Easy,” which made it all the way to No. 2.  As the 1990s beckoned, Dalton felt it was time for change, and switched to Capitol Records.  Morello has combined Dalton’s first two records for Capitol on one CD: 1989’s Survivor and 1990’s Lacy J.  (Survivor was initially issued on Universal before being reissued by Capitol according to Dalton’s website discography.)

Both albums were produced by another Nashville legend, Jimmy Bowen, whose earliest successes included hit productions for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and their pallys at Reprise Records in the 1960s.  Dalton assembled an eclectic group of studio pros to support her for these two albums, including bassist Leland Sklar (known for his work with Carole King, James Taylor and others) and Music City’s own Reggie Young, on guitar.  Her sound owed more to classic country than to pop, though not without modern production flourishes.  Although she contributed a few songs to each album, both primarily consist of interpretations of others’ songs.  For Survivor, Dalton offered a countrified take on Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years” as well as Kris Kristofferson’s “The Heart.”  (“Old Friends,” however, is not the Paul Simon song, nor the Stephen Sondheim one!)  For Lacy J., Dave (“Please Come to Boston”) Loggins and Don (“The Gambler”) Schlitz supplied “Where Did We Go Right.”  Longtime Capitol artist Glen Campbell showed up for the duet “Shaky Ground,” co-written by Dalton herself.

Lastly, Morello combines two very different albums from Marty Robbins on one CD.  The Columbia Records mainstay, Grand Ole Opry member and avid racecar driver charted more than fifteen No. 1 U.S. country hits and even graced the top spot of the pop chart with the very first No. 1 of the 1960s, “El Paso,” during a nearly four-decade career only curtailed by his untimely death in 1982 at the age of 57.   It wasn’t unusual to find Robbins on the pop charts, with songs like “The Story of My Life,” “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation,” and “Don’t Worry,” and indeed, both of the albums on Morello’s new disc lean heavily in a pop direction: 1962’s Marty After Midnight and 1970’s My Woman, My Woman, My Wife.

The latter album opens the new reissue via its title song, a No. 1 country hit for Robbins.  The mawkish, but completely heartfelt, song was written by Robbins for his wife of 25 years, Marizona, and netted him a Grammy Award as well as cover recordings by artists including Dean Martin.  Produced by Bob Johnston (Blonde on Blonde), My Woman, My Woman, My Wife is a strong collection of mostly romantic ballads, a long way from Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs!  In addition to two other Robbins originals (“I’ve Got a Woman’s Love” and “A Very Special Way”), he also wraps his resonant voice around two Elvis Presley classics, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Love Me Tender.”  My Woman has been joined by a full-on excursion into the world of standards produced by Don Law and Frank Jones.  Marty After Midnight finds the country crooner in a late-night mood for the likes of “Misty,” “I’m in the Mood for Love” and “September in the Rain,” as well as tunes from George and Ira Gershwin (“Summertime”) and Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen (“All the Way”).  Robbins himself supplied “Don’t Throw Me Away,” and Clyde Otis offered “Looking Back.”  The Jordanaires joined Robbins on backing vocals, while Boots Randolph contributed sax and Floyd Cramer tickled the ivories.  Though these albums were recorded nearly a decade apart, they complement each other well and demonstrate Robbins’ great versatility and adaptability to non-country songbooks.  Marty After Midnight, in particular, shows Robbins in a setting that’s extremely close to straight-ahead vocal jazz, far-removed from country environs.  As such, it’s well worth exploring.

All four titles have brief liner notes from Michael Heatley and have been remastered by Alan Wilson at Western Star Studios.  We’ll bring you up to date with all of the latest releases from Morello, but for now, you can order all titles below!

George Jones, The Grand Tour / Alive Again (Morello MRLL1, 2012)

  1. The Grand Tour
  2. Darlin’
  3. Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through)
  4. She’ll Love the One She’s With
  5. Once You’ve Had the Best
  6. The Weatherman
  7. Borrowed Angel
  8. She Told Me So
  9. Mary Don’t Go ‘Round
  10. Who Will I Be Loving Now
  11. Our Private Life
  12. A Drunk Can’t Be a Man
  13. Ain’t Nobody Gonna Miss Me
  14. Stand On My Own Two Knees
  15. You’re The Best Living
  16. Over Something Good
  17. Her Name Is…
  18. I’m All She’s Got
  19. She Needs Me
  20. Right Now, I’d Come Back and Melt in Her Arms
  21. Diary of My Mind

Tracks 1-11 from The Grand Tour, Epic LP KE 33083, 1974
Tracks 12-21 from Alone Again, Epic LP KE 34290, 1976

George Jones, Bartender’s Blues / Shine On (Morello MRLL3, 2012)

  1. Bartender’s Blues (with James Taylor)
  2. If You Loved a Liar (You’d Hug My Neck)
  3. Ain’t Your Memory Got No Pride at All
  4. I Gave It All Up for You
  5. I Don’t Want No Stranger Sleeping in My Bed
  6. I Ain’t Got No Business Doin’ Business Today
  7. Leaving Love All Over the Place
  8. (When Your Phone Don’t Ring) It’ll Be Me
  9. Julianne
  10. Shine On (Shine All Your Sweet Love on Me)
  11. She Hung the Moon
  12. I’d Rather Have What We Had
  13. Tennessee Whiskey
  14. Almost Persuaded
  15. I Always Get Lucky with You
  16. Mem’ryville
  17. I Should’ve Called
  18. The Show’s Almost Over
  19. Ol’ George Stopped Drinkin’ Today

Tracks 1-10 from Bartender’s Blues, Epic KE 35414, 1978
Tracks 11-19 from Shine On, Epic FE 38406, 1983

Lacy J. Dalton, Survivor / Lacy J. (Morello MRLL4, 2012)

  1. I’m a Survivor
  2. Walking Wounded
  3. A Diamond All the Time
  4. Still Crazy After All These Years
  5. Old Friends
  6. Turn to the One
  7. The Heart
  8. Me and These Arms
  9. They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To
  10. Hard Luck Ace
  11. Don’t Try to Tell Me (Nothin’s Goin’ On)
  12. Black Coffee
  13. Where Did We Go Right?
  14. Turn to a Little Third Rate Romance
  15. Long Way Down
  16. Ain’t No Question
  17. Lonesome (As the Night is Long)
  18. Walk That Line
  19. Shaky Ground (with Glen Campbell)
  20. That Road Still Looks Real Good to Me

Tracks 1-10 from Survivor, Universal UVL-44264, 1989/Capitol C4-94059, 1990
Tracks 11-20 from Lacy J., Capitol C2-93912, 1990

Marty Robbins, My Woman, My Woman, My Wife / Marty After Midnight (Morello MRLL2, 2012)

  1. My Woman, My Woman, My Wife
  2. Can’t Help Falling in Love
  3. Love Me Tender
  4. I’ve Got a Woman’s Love
  5. Three Little Words
  6. Maria (If I Could)
  7. The Master’s Touch
  8. My Happy Heart Sings
  9. Without You to Love
  10. A Very Special Way
  11. Martha Ellen Jenkins
  12. I’m in the Mood for Love
  13. Misty
  14. Looking Back
  15. September in the Rain
  16. Don’t Throw Me Away
  17. Pennies from Heaven
  18. Summertime
  19. All the Way
  20. It Had to Be You
  21. I’m Having a Ball
  22. If I Could Cry
  23. On the Sunny Side of the Street

Tracks 1-11 from My Woman, My Woman, My Wife, Columbia CS 9978, 1970
Tracks 12-23 from Marty After Midnight, Columbia CS 8601, 1962

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Written by Joe Marchese

September 7, 2012 at 09:52

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