Although Willie Nelson's two albums for Atlantic Records -- Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages -- were among his most unsuccessful records commercially, they were groundbreaking, pivotal releases that rank among his finest and most introspective works. Musically, both albums straddle the lines between outlaw country, folk, and traditional pop -- they are innovative, introspective works that sounded unlike his previous work. Additionally, both records are concept albums, with each of the songs intertwining to tell a story. Shotgun Willie is about a legendary outlaw; Phases and Stages is about a divorce, with the first side taking the perspective of the male, the second taking the female view point. Neither album produced big hits, but they are some of the strongest efforts Willie Nelson ever made, making this single-disc collection an excellent bargain.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine