Updated: Jan 2
GEORGE JONES - Ride The High Country (Live 1981) (2021):
Just in time for Christmas y'all! I've said the following so many times when spinning some of our classic all-time favorite artists on my Stone Cold Country radio show. What I've said is that there is so much music we have not heard from some of the artists that have since been long gone.
Often what happens is that an artist will cut some records their label won't release for a variety of reasons. Then we'll hear it after they've left planet earth or on an independently released passion project. This gold gem of a release was recorded twice on June 6th, 1981. One of the recordings was for the Silver Eagle Cross Country Radio Series. It was a sold out standing room only show of 400 at one of New York's most eclectic, and popular clubs at the time.
The Bottom Line
Located in Greenwich Village, The Bottom Line was famous for its intimate setting, and amazing sound system. Just to provide some context, The Bottom Line presented music from a variety of genres. Waylon, CDB, Jerry Reed, Asleep At The Wheel, Doc Watson, and Miles Davis all played there. We also have the club to thank for an unknown kid from Jersey that played some showcases there, when he was trying to get a record deal.. You might of heard of him, his name is Bruce Springsteen..
At the Bottom Line circa 1975
June 6th, 1981 was a Saturday, and the evening temperature was roughly 61 with winds at about 13 miles per hour. It was a clear night, perfect for a brisk walk to the village, and hear the greatest country singer of all-time, which was what The New York Times said about George several years prior. Yet, the show at The Bottom Line was supposed to have happened several months before.
George said that his old booze, and cocaine laced paranoia had him thinking that the intellectuals at the club wouldn't know who he was. Furthermore, once they took a look at him, they would wonder what all the fuss was about. Walter Cronkite, Elton John, and
Emmylou Harris were among the guests at The Bottom Line show that George never played.
But on June 6th 1981, George Jones, and Country Music came to New York City, and played The Bottom Line. Many celebrities made the trek to see the greatest country singer of all-time including Bonnie Rait, Linda Rondstadt and Andy Warhol.
At least for the day of the show, George was sober, he was also divorced from Tammy, and enjoying a renewed interest in his music after going nearly six years without a number one song. His latest album "I Am What I Am" released in 1980, yielded several hits, the biggest, a song that established George's legacy as the greatest country singer of all time.
And in less than 3 months after George's performance at The Bottom Line, "I Am What I Am" is certified gold, and then platinum in 1983.
It's really important to understand what an epic year 1981 was for George, and how his reach was exponentially broadened by performing in areas, and to audiences that may have not been extremely familiar with his music.
In 1981, George won his first Academy of Country Music Award for Single of the Year, Song of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year.
He also won his second Country Music Association Award for Male Vocalist of the Year. In 1981, George Jones had arrived! He won his first Grammy for Best Male Country Vocalist. How awesome is it that Conway, and Charley did the honors!
The new release Ride The High Country Live is 35 minutes of some of George's most memorable hits. The first two songs, George flubs a line here, and there, but by the third song George is fully warmed up, and is killing it.
The opossum's vocal delivery is full of soul, and style. James Taylor who wrote Bartender's Blues for George is in the crowd, and at one point George mentions JT during the song
chuckling several times throughout the tune. Some of the highlights are You Better Treat Your Man Right, White Lightning w/ Johnny Paycheck, and an impromptu performance by Linda Ronstadt.
One foot note, it appears that this album is only available by way of digital download. Also the label or publisher is listed as "Tumbledown". I could not find any information on Tumbledown, which I find unusual. With that being said, it is worth a listen!
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