Waylon Jennings

Live from Austin TX, 1989

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Waylon Jennings' volume in the Austin City Limits series Live from Austin TX, recorded in 1989, was his second appearance on the program. Before the Jennings fanatics get all bent out of shape because this was during his MCA period -- hold on a moment: this gig, with its 17 tracks, is a stunner. Jennings was sober, and with MCA, but he hadn't left his band or his attitude for top-notch live shows in mothballs. And for those who still doubt: remember Jennings' last record, 2000's Never Say Die: Live was a monster. The tunes from Live from Austin TX, however, are a mix of old and new; Jennings ranges freely back and forth across his long, sometimes confusing, and always varied career. There's the burning opener "I'm a Ramblin' Man," followed by "Rainy Day Woman," which slips into Sammy Johns' "America," then stomps into a couple of Bob McDill's classics as defined by Jennings: "I May Be Used (But I Ain't Used Up)" and the beautiful "Amanda." The staunch professionalism and raw immediacy of the Jennings band makes its frontman stand ten feet tall in front of an adoring television audience. When he begins his own fine version of Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee," the crowd goes nuts and Jennings gives them everything he's got. Finally, Jennings launches into one of his own with "Trouble Man," a freewheeling country-rocker. But he also offers fine versions of other originals, like "Good 'Ol Boys," "Bob Wills Is Still the King," a wild and ornery "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," "Good Hearted Woman," and an anthemic "I've Always Been Crazy." Yes, "Luckenbach, Texas" is here just before the lights go off, but Jennings takes it out on the wild side with a stomping rocker, Rodney Crowell's "I Ain't Living Long This Way." Jennings pushes the band and they shove back and he loves it. It's quite a finish to an amazing concert, and a necessary addition for every serious Jennings fan's library. Those who have owned bootlegs of this for years will be gratified that the real thing has much better sound.

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