("Exploring the Classics" (ETC) is an ongoing series in which I highlight and discuss an album from country music's past that is of particular noteworthiness due to general acclaim, influence, historical import, commercial success, or some combination thereof. While in many instances I'll be revisiting albums with which I've long been familiar, in others I'll be experiencing these works for the first time. What albums count as "noteworthy" is obviously highly subjective and determined at my discretion, but I'm not too strict about it. I do, however, feel that these are the works that tell the story of country music and all of its many roots and branches.)
While George Jones was an outstanding vocalist and responsible for many of the most iconic songs in the country music canon, the truth is, unlike some contemporaries such as Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, he rarely excelled at making great albums. He was extremely prolific, typically releasing two or three albums a year at the demand of his labels, and this frequently resulted in the need to record songs that were less than great. He's pretty much the quintessential example of a "singles artist" whose genius is most apparent on compilations. However, he occasionally did hit upon a great batch of songs, and 1974's The Grand Tour, released at the height of George's fame when he was married to Tammy Wynette and charting in the top 10 with regularity, is easily one of the best albums he ever made.