Waylon Jennings

Goin' Down Rockin': The Last Recordings

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Just prior to his death in 2002, Waylon Jennings headed over with some regularity to the home studio of his longtime friend and producer Robby Turner. Featuring nothing more than Waylon's own guitar and Turner's bass, these recordings were spare and simple, intended to be finished out some day down the road. That day arrived a decade later, when Turner finally felt ready to flesh out these recordings with the assistance of several regular Jennings sidemen, adding rhythm, steel, guitars, keyboards, and some harmony vocals to the original demos, releasing the finished product as the Goin' Down Rockin' album. Often, this kind of posthumous overdubbing winds up sounding a bit mawkish, but not here. There's little overt sentimentality here, nor is this quite as slick as the albums Jennings released in the last decade or so of his life, nor is this as austere and obsessed with mortality as Rick Rubin's productions for Johnny Cash. Goin' Down Rockin' merely sounds like a good latter-day album from Waylon Jennings, one where he's singing songs that matter to him and one where he's singing with soul. Naturally, that's more than enough. Jennings -- who wrote 11 of the 12 songs (the title track was written by Tony Joe White, who also pops up to perform on this cut), some of them revivals, some of them new tunes -- seems comfortable and unhurried, looking back not with regret but bittersweet satisfaction. Turner matches the original demos quite nicely, going so far as to capture keyboard sounds that are slightly out of time, just dated enough so Goin' Down Rockin' sounds as if it could have come out in 2002. Ultimately, that subtle modesty is what's so appealing about this posthumous collection: this isn't a major statement, it's a warm, fitting coda to a legendary career.

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