Waylon Jennings

When Sin Stops

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It's easy to forget that most singers have to start from somewhere, and that their style was only achieved after lots of sweat in low paying dives. Waylon Jennings is a case in point. As one of country music's outlaws during the '70s, he was known for his resonate, manly vocals, delivered against a phase shifter-driven electric guitar backdrop ("Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," "Clyde"). To travel back to the early '60s, as When Sin Stops does, is as revealing as it is bizarre. Even when listening to Jennings' '60s work on RCA, it was plain that nobody -- record executive Chet Atkins or Jennings himself -- really understood his talent. This is equally clear on When Sin Stops, an album that contains Jennings' first recordings and a few other oddities originally released on Waylon at JD's. The problem isn't that these recordings are bad (though the sound quality is pretty rough), but that no one had figured out how to make Jennings stand out from every other singer on the make. Nor had they figured out that certain songs, "Big Mamou" and "Dream Baby," sounded kind of silly when Jennings tore into them. It doesn't help that the tempos are often too fast. Still, When Sin Stops, while somewhat weak in the musical department, provides a nice snapshot of the young man who, in time, would become Waylon Jennings. That alone makes it worth the price of admission.

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