Record Collector (magazine) - p.914 stars out of 5
-- "'Take the Devil Out Of Me' is a happy-clappy hillbilly exorcism, while 'Taggin' Along' and 'Jesus Wants Me' are equally upbeat tambourine-shakers."
Uncut (magazine) - p.964 stars out of 5
-- "[The second half] showcases George the busted balladeer, his stunning voice essaying everyday tales of murder, heartache and arson."
Although George Jones put out an album in 1959 titled Country Church Time, and although this CD contains virtually all of the material from that LP, it's not a straight reissue of that record. First, it does not contain "My Soul's Been Satisfied" from the original LP, the liner notes' curious explanation being that "we were unable to find a good enough quality copy of the closing track." In better news, it adds a dozen bonus tracks grouped under the subtitle "more songs of depression and despair." The first half of the CD features 11 of the 12 songs from Country Church Time itself, and as you'd expect from that title, the themes are often religious in nature. Certainly you don't have to scout for the religious references in songs with titles like "Jesus Wants Me," "Take the Devil Out of Me," "My Lord Has Called Me," and "Good Old Bible." The most familiar of them to rock-grounded listeners might be "We'll Understand It," covered by the Byrds as "Farther Along" in the early '70s. But if the lyrical scope might be more limited than his usual early efforts, sonically they're well in line with his approach as he started to reach his honky tonk prime, and anyone who likes late-'50s Jones should enjoy the plaintive performances here. As for the segment subtitled "more songs of depression and despair," well, such songs comprised a big chunk of both Jones' and many other country stars' repertoire. In truth, however, they're not all that downbeat. Dating from around the same time or slightly later than the Country Church Time cuts, they're also solid honky tonk, if dealing in the main with the pitfalls of the heart rather than the trials of the soul. There's nearly an hour of good music here that draws from the more underexposed corners of Jones' quality work from this period, though not always in the best sound quality that could have been mustered. But even leaving aside the lame omission of "My Soul's Been Satisfied," the brief annotation is unsatisfactory, not supplying any recording/release dates (or even a time frame) for the dozen bonus cuts. ~ Richie Unterberger