Jerry Jeff Walker

Too Old to Change/Jerry Jeff

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While it's inexcusable that MCA hasn't done this with some of the best of Jerry Jeff Walker's catalog -- titles such as It's a Good Night for Singin', Jerry Jeff Walker, and a single-package version of A Man Must Carry On come immediately to mind -- Wounded Bird has accomplished something quite special in releasing this pair of his Elektra sets. Generally considered to be inferior to his MCA material, hearing them in the context of this time period reveals just how consistent the material and performances are, and secondly, it is revelatory to see just how visionary and musically restless Walker had become when he began to produce himself. Here is the Walker fans had come to know and love, singing songs about rounders and everyday folks in their joys and struggles -- as well as a tune or two about having too much of a good time -- placed in musical settings that contained everything from hard rock, Caribbean rhythms, Dixieland jazz, bluegrass, outlaw country, folk, and even soul. Too Old to Change is the first chapter, with Walker sticking close to what he knew -- great songs, good players, fine performances, and stretching it by using conga drums, marimbas, and a whole slew of musicians not associated with Austin at all (including Carole King on one track). Then he took it to the limit on Jerry Jeff, with a nearly divine sonic cacophony of great dynamics, a killer collection of songs, musically genre-bending instrumentation and performances, and a joie de vivre fans hadn't heard since his earliest country records. The remastering job is fabulous on these titles, giving fans a chance to hear this period in Walker's career in a whole new light. The only complaint is the lack of credits that were on the original albums, but then sometimes you can't have everything, and this will do quite nicely.

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