Waylon Jennings

Greatest Hits [RCA]

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RCA's nine-track 1979 Greatest Hits collection has since been supplemented by more thorough compilations -- most notably the double-disc sets Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line and RCA Country Legends -- but as a snapshot of Waylon at his outlaw peak, this serves quite well. And, make no mistake, this concentrates solely on the outlaw years, leaving off anything from the '60s, including such defining songs as "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line" and "The Taker." Instead of being hurt by such exclusions, this Greatest Hits gains strength by its sharp focus on the peak of his outlaw years. Each of these nine songs has a nearly mythological pull, presenting ol' Waylon as the Nashville rebel, honky tonk hero, and ramblin' man who stormed through country music in the '70s with his piledriving hardcore country (yet wasn't afraid to show a macho sensitive side, as he did with "Amanda"). He made plenty of other great songs than what's here, especially during the outlaw era, but every tune here is at the core of his legend, which is why this Greatest Hits remains a great listen, even after it's been replaced by more comprehensive collections.

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