Live from Austin TX

Willie Nelson

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Live from Austin TX Review

by Thom Jurek

This date from 1990 features Willie Nelson and the Family Band in fine form. Live from Austin TX reflects so many of the audience and band favorites in such a hometown setting, it would be hard to imagine it not working like a charm. According to Austin City Limits producer Terry Lickona's brief liner notes, Nelson was the first-ever guest on the public television-syndicated program back in 1974 for its pilot episode. It wouldn't matter if Nelson sang nursery rhymes in front of this audience. But it's tight and well-rehearsed, yet there's more than a degree of spontaneity here in tracks like "Stay a Little Longer," with a killer Nelson guitar break and a tough rock & roll riff in the bridge. Then there's the medley of "Funny," "Crazy," and "Night Life" that's mercurial, slippery, and a tiny bit ragged. The reading of "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)," here is choice, as is the live version of "Always on My Mind," a song that, remarkably, still has a lot of life in it despite its being performed countless thousands of times. The only drawback here is the sound. It's actually a bit disheartening considering how fine the performance is. One would have imagined that the sonics would have been fairly top-notch by 1990, but not so here. It's a bit flat and lifeless, kept alive only by the fiery performance of the band. Too bad. Though this is not one to recommend to someone getting started with Nelson, or a casual fan, hardcore fans will have to have this despite the shortcomings of fidelity. It's a good 'un.

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