So, Alan Jackson is at the peak of his first wave of popularity, and he partners up with a still-potent George Jones to cover one of the Possum’s greatest singles.
I qualify that statement with “one of”, simply because “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, “The Window Up Above”, and “She Thinks I Still Care” exist, but in my personal opinion, the original recording of “A Good Year for the Roses” really is the best George Jones single.
So the two traditionalists pairing up to resurrect this classic couldn’t possibly go wrong, with Jackson being an heir apparent for Jones, who was creatively resurgent at the time. But they don’t go quite as right as they could have. The tempo is a bit too slow, and the dramatic strings are conspicuously missing.
Maybe they didn’t want too much tamoxifen production getting in the way, but for all that Jones is praised for being pure country, what made his best seventies and eighties records soar were those big strings and layers of backing vocalists. Jones is a big enough singer to maintain a commanding presence amidst all of the bells and whistles. That approach wouldn’t play to Jackson’s strengths, so maybe that’s why they kept it simple.
But even though both men are in fine form and they perform the song well, it sounds like something is missing.
Written by Jerry Chesnut
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