It’s easy to assume Time-Life's 2011 Great Country Hits of the '60s
would contain a selection of ‘60s hits from George Jones
, but that’s not the case. Every one of the 12 songs here was indeed a hit in the ‘60s, and every track here was cut by George
in the ’60s, but the catch is every song here was a hit by another singer. Most of the time, that other singer is Merle Haggard
: no less than five of the 12 cuts here are associated with Hag
gives “Okie from Muskogee,” “Mama’s Hungry Eyes,” “(All My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers,” and “Fightin’ Side of Me” strong readings, and he’s just as good on the truck driver’s anthem “Six Days on the Road” and David Houston
’s “Almost Persuaded.” No matter how closely these versions hew to the original arrangements -- and they do, they were knocked out quickly during jam-packed sessions for Musicor -- George
doesn’t erase memories of the original hits, nor does he implant his own personality on them. He merely sings them with his natural grace, which is enough to make this an enjoyable period piece, if not necessarily a memorable one.