[11 September 2007]
Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, if you happened to make it down to Orlando, Florida to hit the theme parks during the day and still had energy to dance to some of your favorite live music at night, Church Street Station was the place to be. All the big names of that era made an effort to hit the stage at the Station’s Cheyenne Saloon and Opera House and one of the top country singers to perform there was the legendary George Jones.
Jones, who by this particular point in time, had been on the scene for well-over a quarter century, his marriage to Tammy Wynette already over, was riding high on the success of his Grammy Award-winning hit “He Stopped Loving Her Today”. His performance was captured on a television special in an unspecified year (circa 1980?) on an unspecified channel, which is noted only because this DVD is slim in liner note information or pretty much anything else except a list of song titles.
This is a major strike against the DVD. Not all of Jones’ hits are here, for you fans of the Possum. In fact, this meager affair barely scratches the surface. But back to the actual performance.
Dressed in powder-blue polyester jumpsuits, Jones’s able backup band helps propel the Possum through a host of hot hits, including the amusing opener, “No-Show Jones”, “Who’s Gonna Chop My Baby’s Kindlin’ When I’m Gone”, and “Bartender Blues.” Throughout the program, Jones strums an acoustic guitar, mugs for the camera, and appears to be having a good time. At the beginning of the show, Jones pulls up in front of the performance hall in a vintage Mercedes convertible, bringing to mind George Strait when he rides into the Houston Astrodome prior to his performance there, featured on George Strait: Live at the Astrodome.
For those who remember country singers Johnny Rodriguez and Mark Gray, chances are they’ll want to pick this up since they are featured as guest performers during the poor quality, hour-long program. As has already been noted, this DVD, put out by Pennsylvania-based Quantum Leap, is not a high-quality affair. The packaging is minimalist at best, with a picture of Jones, circa 1960 on the cover, and a basic bio printed on the back along with the track listings. While the performance is solid, the packaging and quality are substandard and are not worthy of a man so revered in the country music world.