Willie Nelson

Absolutely the Best, Vol. 1

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This best-of collects some of the fruits of Willie Nelson's failed early-'60s attempts to record some hits for himself on the Liberty record label with slickly produced versions of his by-then-legendary songs. His recording of "Crazy," the Patsy Cline hit, is reflective and semi-narrated, while the wonderful "Hello Walls" includes shimmering vibes and echoing backing vocals. The most striking fact about this collection is how well Nelson's songs hold up, no matter what arrangement they're given -- the hallmark of a true master songwriter.

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