Willie Nelson

The Collection: Red Headed Stranger/Stardust/Always on My Mind

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Simply put, this is another of Sony Legacy's three-pack deals. In these Collections, they place three well-known albums by a major artist in a slipcase for a budget price; that's it. In this case it happens to be three very desirable (and among the best) albums by Willie Nelson.Two of these recordings are considered artistic as well as commercial breakthroughs, and the last was a hit record that contained one of his biggest and most memorable singles. The albums included here are 1975's Red Headed Stranger, a concept recording, and while not his first -- those were Yesterday's Wine and Phases and Stages recorded for RCA a few years earlier -- was the first he issued for Columbia and was critically and commercially received outside traditional country music circles. 1982's Stardust is a multi-platinum success story, as well as a critical one -- it's the recording with which Nelson finally crossed over en masse, a recording of standards from the Great American Songbook. Finally, there's 1982's Always on My Mind, featuring the title track which became a world-wide crossover smash. Produced by Chips Moman, it also included readings of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale," Gilbert Bécaud's "Let It Be Me," and Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," proving once and for all that Nelson could sing anything he chose. He hasn't looked back since, and is now an American institution. He has cut records of almost every stripe, and collaborated with renowned musicians the world over. While hardcore Willie fans will tell you to start elsewhere, this set, especially for the money, is an excellent place to start investigating his work. All three CDs are the current remastered versions as of 2009.

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