Waylon Jennings

This Time

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This Time appeared just as outlaw hit its stride, thanks in large part to the excellent Honky Tonk Heroes. If this record isn't its equal, it's still pretty wonderful all the same. Part of the record's flaw is its heavy reliance on Willie Nelson -- actually, not just on Willie, but on Phases and Stages, which is the source of no less than four of this record's six songs. Granted, these are great songs, and Waylon's versions are hard to fault, but they nevertheless give the record a slightly recycled feeling. Fortunately, these songs are surrounded by excellent material, such as the number one single "This Time." Overall, This Time is fairly muted and deliberate, surprising for an album coming on the heels of the defiant Honky Tonk Heroes. Even the songs that swagger, like Billy Joe Shaver's "Slow Rollin' Low," are laid-back, and the whole thing is fairly reflective (appropriate, if it uses a divorce album as its template). It's not that the monochromaticity makes it a lesser affair than its predecessor, yet the whole thing does feel a bit reserved and not quite as overpowering as a sequel to Honky Tonk Heroes should be. Still, it's a first-rate record -- perhaps not a classic, but a subdued, understated album unlike anything in his catalog. [The 1999 Buddha reissue contained five bonus tracks featuring Waylon supported by the Crickets, running through (mostly) highlights from Buddy Holly's catalog. Though incongruous with This Time, these are highly entertaining cuts, packing more immediacy than the album itself.]

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