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The Possum is back

Country Standard Time Editorial, November 1998

It didn't take too too long for George Jones to find a new record label. After splitting with MCA earlier this year, The Possum just signed with Asylum.

The move made sense as Asylum is run by Jones' former publicist, Evelyn Shriver, who seems to have a ken for older stars who are no longer getting their due.

MCA got kicked in the teeth for letting Jones go. (Whatever happened to the prestige factor of having certain artists on a label?) and defended itself in terms of record sales.

Jones, of course, highly influential over the decades to a younger generation of singers, has not done as well in recent years in garnering airplay for his albums. Some were not exactly top notch (why did Jones, for example, sing the far too cutesy "High Tech Redneck?"), but his strong, most recent album suffered the same fate as many old timers - country radio didn't play it.

Shriver and Jones reportedly have different ideas about how to market the album. After all this is a business with record companies trying to make money. While still going after country radio stations - ever the victim of ultra-tight playlists - they may opt for a television campaign.

Asylum had better be satisfied with smaller sales numbers from Jones. He might deserve more, but as long as his "friends" at country radio won't play it, country fans could be hard pressed to buy it because they may not even be aware of its existence.

But the label is certainly to be congratulated for taking the chance instead of opting for the flavor of the month.

Maybe we're on a trend. In recent months, we have seen quite fine releases from Connie Smith and Bill Anderson, stars whose greatest sales days may be behind them. But that doesn't mean they have fallen victim to mediocrity.

As usual, it's up to the record buying public to put their money where their ears are when it comes to buying albums from the old timers.

Then, folks like Jones won't have to be searching for a new label.