Willie Nelson


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This has to be the wackiest three-CD Willie Nelson collection out there -- and that's saying a lot. While it is released as a budget-priced box from RCA in Australia, it nonetheless cross-licenses material from Columbia as well, thank goodness. The sequencing is literally insane with material from the '50s before and after material from the '70s and the '60s stuff being strewn throughout as well as some '80s additions. One noticeable omission, especially since it was on RCA in the first place, is the absence of "Crazy," one of the two songs that made Nelson a songwriting star. The other, "Hello Walls," is here, and so are many others from the period. There are also a handful of duets with Waylon Jennings, though some of the choices, again, are weird. Instead of "Luckenbach, Texas" you get "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and Kris Kristofferson's "Don't Cuss the Fiddle." Yes, "Good Hearted Woman" and "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" are here, and so is "The Year Clayton Delaney Died," but why include "Write Your Own Songs"? Finally, while "Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain" and "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground," or "Always on My Mind," are nowhere to be found, "Fire and Rain," "Bring Me Sunshine," and Floyd Tillman's "Some Other World" are present. Certainly these are fine readings of these songs but hardly the stuff that made Nelson legendary. There are some fine inclusions, too, including "Sweet Memories," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "Yesterday's Wine," "Phases & Stages, Circles, Cycles & Scenes," "Little Things," "San Antonio Rose," "It's Not Supposed to Be That Way," and literally a dozen and a half more. While this is an interesting collection, it's not a solid introductory one by any means.

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