George Jones: Original Starday Recordings

Updated: Nov 5

If you are looking for crackling, popping, and skip a beat sounds, skip this one! Technology is catching up with some of the classic country sounds we love so much. As we all know vinyl can get scratched, dinged, and degraded due to extensive use, poor storage, and faulty turntables.


Finally, we are seeing some of the early music from the greatest country singer of all time make its way to our digital shelves. Of course, I am talking about George Jones! But first some information on how, and where George started his amazing country music career.


In the 1950's George Jones was singing in, and around Beaumont, Texas, about an hour away from the town of Colmesneil, where he grew up. As the Possum tells it, he worked in some very rough honky tonks where, if you did not have a gun when you walked through the door, they'd give you one just in case.(wink) He also performed on an afternoon radio show on WKFDM. George did well enough to create a buzz throughout the area catching the attention of Pappy Dailey.


Lefty Frizzell's former manager Jack Stearnes, and Pappy had formed Starday Records in 1952. The label was instrumental in launching the careers of Willie Nelson, Red Sovine, Dottie West, and Roger Miller among many others. In 1954, George recorded his first song with the label "There's No Money In This Deal". He wrote, and recorded several songs thereafter, but the first five singles did not chart nationally.


However, George's sixth release with Starday Records was a game changer. "Why Baby Why" was a toe tapper of a song that George co-wrote. The song topped the radio chart in Houston, Texas, and did so well that it went to number four for George on what would be later known as the Billboard Country Chart. It also caught the attention of two popular Decca artists. Webb, and Red took the song all the way to number one.


 


 

Pappy as well as others on his team had tried for a long while to get George on the Grand Ole Opry. In the 50's, singing on the Opry could catapult a song to number one. George said that the Opry wanted nothing to do with him at the time, he never found out why.


Though George was only on Starday for about two years, many of the songs he recorded have become honky tonk standards like Why Baby Why, and Tall Tall Trees. The latter, a song George wrote with up, and coming label mate Roger Miller.


You Gotta Be My Baby (Original Starday Recordings) includes several songs that were never officially released. Starday mostly released singles from George, and only one full album:"The Grand Ole Opry's New Star". In August 1956, that dream became a reality for George, he became the Opry's newest member. It also marked the end of his relationship with Starday, but he continued to work w/ Pappy at Mercury his new label.


It is important to note that the title track of this recording was the first song George sang on his Grand Ole Opry debut! You Gotta Be My Baby was also George's second top ten Billboard hit. Thanks to digital technology, there is a sharp increase in quality when you contrast with some of the previously released material available on vinyl. Some of the standouts here are Color of the Blues, Yearning, and Deep In The Heart of a Fool.


 


 

Many of the songs have a strong Hank Williams feel from an arrangement standpoint with Roy Acuff influenced vocals on some songs as well. Also noted is Lefty Frizzell's signature Madge Suttee styled honky tonk piano on What Am I Worth.


If you are not familiar with George's early recordings, this might be an awakening. All in all, the recordings showcase the evolution of George's career from local yocal to the early signs of what he would become: The greatest country singer of all time..



 


 

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