Waylon Jennings

Triple Feature: Lonesome, On'ry and Mean/Ol' Waylon/I've Always Been Crazy

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The Triple Feature series by Sony Legacy compiles three -- usually well-known -- catalog albums by big-name artists, assembles them in a slipcase box, and sells them at a budget price to consumers. While the reason may be simply a new package in order to clear shelves of excess inventory, this exercise also serves a purpose for collectors and fans filling in holes for a favorite artist. These three recordings by Waylon Jennings are all stone killers, beginning with 1973’s Lonesome, On’ry and Mean. This was the first record where Jennings got his way and was able to pick out the songs he wanted to record as well as use his own touring band in the studio -- a huge victory for the era. The set contains Steve Young’s title cut, which has become one of the signature tunes -- if not the signature tune -- for the entire outlaw movement in country music history; it's a genuine anthem. This alone would make the album worth the purchase price but there's so much more: great readings of Mickey Newbury’s “San Francisco Mabel Joy,” Danny O’Keefe’s “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues,” and Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee”; there isn’t a dull moment on the album, widely regarded as Waylon's masterpiece. Also here is 1977’s Ol’ Waylon, which contains the original version of his “Luckenbach Texas (Back to the Basics of Love),” an amazing reading of Rodney Crowell’s “Till I Gain Control Again,” and the ballad “If You See Me Getting Smaller.” Released in 1978, I’ve Always Been Crazy was spottily reviewed by the national music press at the time -- perhaps because even country stalwarts like Mel Tillis were claiming they were outlaws and the whole thing turned into a Nashville marketing circus. Jennings' frustration is evidenced by the smoking track “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Outta Hand." That said, the album has aged exceedingly well. In addition to the aforementioned cut, it has the rollicking title track, a solid Buddy Holly medley (Jennings was a member of the Crickets), the beautiful midtempo ballad “A Long Time Ago,” and fine versions of Merle Haggard’s "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.” Given the super budget price tag, and the fact that these are all remastered editions, this is essential listening for anyone even remotely interested in Jennings or even fans who haven’t replaced their copies of the original CDs with better-sounding ones.

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