Album Review

George Jones And Merle Haggard - Kickin Out The Footlights...Again

George Jones - Kickin Out The Footlights...Again

Their first collaboration came in 1982 with the Yesterday's Wine album, and much has happened since. Today both George Jones and Merle Haggard are in the Country Music Hall of Fame. They've confronted major health issues, substance problems, and 1990s Nashville. Back then, new blood from Music Row paid them ample lip service; they continued making outstanding music only to face demographic-obsessed country radio martinets who denied their very existence. No matter. Both being survivors, they remained on the road, Haggard recently joining Bob Dylan on tour, and found new, appreciative audiences among the alt-country crowd. Haggard briefly recorded for a punk label (Anti-); Jones started his own (Bandit). Today Haggard is nearly 70, Jones nearly six years ahead of him. The voices are more weathered, a result of decades of hard living combined with the passage of time. Their spirits, however, remain as youthful, ornery and heartbreakingly honest as the day their first singles hit radio. With current Nashville A-Teamers and legendary A-Team session pianist Pig Robbins backing them, they swap hits. Jones tackles the Haggard standards "Sing Me Back Home", "Strangers" and "I Think I'll Just Sit Here And Drink", while Haggard handles "The Race Is On", "I Always Get Lucky With You", "Window Up Above" and "Things Have Gone To Pieces". They thrive on a smoking western swing arrangement of Johnny Bond's "Sick, Sober And Sorry". And while Haggard routinely sings pop standards, Jones, who rarely did, is surprisingly comfortable on the closing duet, Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore".