A rare set of live Texas honky tonk from the mid-60s by one of the true titans of country music. Fully remastered and in mono with new booklet essay and photographs.
Not many icons of 1950s and 1960s country music ever made a live album during country’s golden age. One of the select few who tried was George Jones, whose producer H.W. “Pappy” Daily hired mobile equipment and taped George and the Jones Boys at Houston’s famous honky-tonk Dancetown USA sometime in early 1965. Although he claimed to have a cold, George was in fine form that night, but significant audio problems that could not have been easily fixed in the 60s caused Daily to shelve the tapes and abandon the notion of releasing any kind of live set on his most eminent discovery.
In the 1980s Ace was offered the opportunity to do something with the tapes and leapt at the chance of putting out a selection of the recordings as a vinyl album tiled “Live At Dancetown USA”. Around a decade later, we issued the full show as a CD to great acclaim.
Our previous issues of this material on vinyl and CD were taken from original 2-track mono tapes and mastered that way. This newly remastered release, re-titled “Live In Texas 1965”, presents the recordings in glorious mono, as it would have been issued in 1965. A mono mix gives the listener a more satisfying audio experience. It also reduces the extraneous hiss and sundry noise that was considerably more exposed on the raw 2-track tapes. This new master presents the precious archive material in the best possible sound, without compromising in any way the integrity of the performances of George and the Jones Boys as they sounded in a Texas dancehall in early 1965.
The once-brief booklet has been expanded, with a lengthy new note and some era-appropriate photographs that were not available to us previously, and the instrumental tracks have been correctly titled. All these changes are for the better, we hope you’ll agree.
Few live sets have ever put the listener front-and-centre in the way this one does. You can hear all kinds of shouts from the audience for specific songs, as well as George’s responses. Announcements over the club’s tannoy frequently match or override George’s stage announcements. The atmosphere generated on the tapes is so vivid that you can almost taste the beer and smell the smoke from a thousand cigarettes. There’s an opening set from the Jones Boys, fronted by George’s label-mate and harmony vocalist Don Adams, together with some brief instrumental workouts that showcase the versatility of the musicians, and even a brief rock’n’roll interlude on ‘Bony Moronie’ from George, who was famously unkindly disposed towards that particular genre. With George and the band – augmented by legendary sidemen Buddy Emmons on pedal steel guitar and Rufus Thibodeaux on Cajun fiddle – sounding exactly as they did on the night, it may well be the most authentically live album ever made.
Although George’s label, Musicor, opted not to release an album from the recordings they made that night, long-time connoisseurs continue to rate Ace’s previous vinyl and CD versions as among the all-time great live country music recordings of the 1960s. George himself never had another stab at cutting a live album until the 1980s, so this priceless document of one of the genre’s greatest voices singing most of his important early hits at his 1960s best is all the more valuable for that.