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George Jones

The Rock: Stone Cold Country 2001 – 2001 (Bandit)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

Apart from its apparent reference to two popular contemporary wrestling personages, there's nothing confusing about the title of George Jones's latest release. Jones is flying the traditionalist flag high again, and the record is stone cold country. The rejuvenation that showed up on his previous release, "Cold Hard Truth," continues here, and this is an album very much in the vein of, if not quite as strong as, that predecessor.

Jones' voice has always revealed the full dimensions of its power on the slow burners, and there are no exceptions to that rule here - above all, on the weeper "Half Over You," but also on "Honey Hush," a meditation on the hard-won fruits of marriage and on the left one's lament "What I Didn't Do." The most affecting performance, though, is Jones singing the hell out of "50,000 Names," Jamie O'Hara's song about the Vietnam Memorial; the ache and emotion of visitors to the Wall just drip out of his rendering.

On the other hand, the most forgettable song on the record - Jones' duet with Garth Brooks on the we're-just-good-ol'-boys "Beer Run" - will likely end up being its best-known. But at least it's putting George Jones back on country radio where he belongs.