Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

George Jones: My Very Special Guests [Epic, 1979]
This collection of ten collaborations with outlaw old-timers, country-rock phenoms, Staples, Tammy, and someone named Elvis has low points, as you might expect. But its quality has more to do with what's being sung than with who's singing it where. James Taylor, harmonizing from New York on his neo-classic "Bartender's Blues," sounds fine; Emmylou Harris, chiming in from El Lay on the lame "Here We Are," fares only slightly worse than Johnny Paycheck does on poor old "Proud Mary," which comes complete with made-in-Nashville interaction. Must-hears: "I Gotta Get Drunk," with Willie Nelson, and the amazing "Stranger in the House," which gives an unexpected clue about who taught Mr. Costello to sing. A-