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George Jones and Tammy Wynette

Golden Ring – 1998 (Razor & Tie)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by George Jones and Tammy Wynette

"Golden Ring" (1976) was the last and arguably the pinnacle of a series of duet albums George Jones and Tammy Wynette made for Epic in the 1970s (they released a final album on Epic in 1980). As with all their albums together (excepting, of course, their gospel album "We Love to Sing About Jesus"), the focus is on domestic joys and tribulations, the ups and downs of life inside (and sometimes outside) the bonds of marriage - which is to say, on "them," even though by the time this album was recorded, they were already divorced.

Already possessing two of the most incredible voices in country music, George and Tammy also seemed made to sing with each other, and they combine their instruments (augmented by Billy Sherrill's typical production) to great effect here. Other than a somewhat listless version of Buck Owens's "Cryin' Time," there isn't a weak song on the album. Its two #1 singles ("Golden Ring" and a languid "Near You"), the back- and-forth vocals on "I've Seen Better Days," the soaring confession of Wynette's high harmony on "Tattletale Eyes" are only its peaks. "Golden Ring" is one of the great male-female country duet albums.