Sandy Nelson

On the Wild Side

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Imperial exhibited little restraint or respect in repackaging Sandy Nelson's recordings, and On the Wild Side is just one in a series of egregious shows of contempt for the listening public. The album is simply a retitled edition of Nelson's 1962 LP Country Style, the drummer's collection of Nashville standards. If classics like Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life," Jim Reeves' "Four Walls," and Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans" seem like odd choices for a drummer of Nelson's energy and abandon, you're right. His primal style proves painfully ill suited to these barroom ballads and honky tonk in general, which relies on the kinds of nuanced, consistent backbeats that are anathema to the Nelson aesthetic. If anything, this is Bizarro country, elevating drums to the foreground while relegating guitar and fiddle to the shadows, and the formula falls flat.