Saturday, December 19, 2015

Patti Page and George Jones Duet - Lookin' Good and Sounding Great

The greatest female vocalist in the history of American pop music was Patti Page (real name Clara Ann Fowler...she inherited "Patti Page" when she replaced a local radio singer by that name.) She could sing jazz, rock, spirituals and country, a much wider range of Americana than Billie Holiday or Patsy Cline. Her beautiful voice was expressive. Unlike Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney and quite a few others, you can instantly tell when Patti's singing by her distinctive lilt and light touch of vibrato. If she'd had the right arrangers, and never sang "Doggie in the Window," she'd be higher on the "best female vocalist" list than the more obvious choices such as Ella Fitzgerald and Barbra Streisand.

As for George Jones, he was pure country, and that limitation runs him second behind Frank Sinatra, who sang everybody from Cole Porter to Jimmy Webb. If you want to be weird, you might place George third behind the now very dated and almost ridiculous Al Jolson, who was certainly a distinctive stylist at home with folk, swing, pop, ballads, and even traditional Hebrew melodies. Sinatra himself said George was the best…except for himself!

It's a shame that two of the greatest voices in American song didn't work together more often. It may have been because despite "Tennessee Waltz" (which could be countered by "Old Cape Cod" anyway), Oklahoma-born Patti didn't overtly move into the country music field until late in her career. Also, she and George weren't on the same music label very long.

"You Never Looked That Good When You Were Mine" is a pretty good song. What makes it great is the ache in Jones' voice and the exquisite angst in Patti's. Despite the C&W cliche of a nauseating steel guitar, the production allows these two voices to brew up a dreamy butter-rum flavor. It's intoxicating because it's a double shot…Page and Jones. Rather than corny pathos, the tone here includes some genial and wistful good humor; it's two old pros together not to recall old times, but to have a good time making a new memory.

Here's the immortal combo of George (September 12, 1931 – April 26, 2013) and Patti (November 8, 1927 – January 1, 2013).

Alias Page and Jones You Never Looked That Good When You Were Mine

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