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Country Favorites: Willie Nelson Style
Genres: Country, Pop
This straight reissue of Willie's second album (from 1966) proves that Nashville wasn't always unaware of how to handle him. Backed by the tightest and jazziest edition of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadors, Nelson previews th... more »
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This straight reissue of Willie's second album (from 1966) proves that Nashville wasn't always unaware of how to handle him. Backed by the tightest and jazziest edition of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadors, Nelson previews things to come in the '70s while reviving 12 of his favorite Western swing standards and barroom ballads. Wade Ray, who uncorks hellacious fiddle solos on "Home in San Antone" and "Columbus Stockade Blues," is an added attraction. Willie is the very sound of sorrow and loss on gems like "I'd Trade All of My Tomorrows (For Just One Yesterday)," "Go On Home," and "Don't You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me)." He also turns in a robust "Fräulein," starts "Seasons of My Heart" at the bottom of his range before modulating up effortlessly, and reaches way down for "Making Believe." Lead guitarist Leon Rhodes and steel man Buddy Charlton provide solid support and superlative soloing. --John Morthland
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Scottish Footie | 02/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By David Hill Feb. 11, 2000 | It's hard to imagine, but there was a time when Willie Nelson -- who will be honored with a lifetime achievement Grammy award on Feb. 23 -- was just a funny looking songwriter struggling to make it as a singer and a performer. "I guess Nashville was the roughest," a soon-to-be outlaw Nelson sang in 1971, near the end of his frustrating seven-year stint at RCA Victor. As a writer, Nelson had already proved himself, having penned such classics as "Crazy," "Night Life" and "Funny How Time Slips Away." But fame as a recording artist was more elusive. His producer at RCA, legendary guitarist and Nashville Sound architect Chet Atkins, couldn't quite figure out what to do with the chubby fellow from Texas with the quirky vocal phrasing. Sometimes Atkins had the good sense to keep things simple, but too often he laid the syrupy strings and the mushy background vocals on a little too thick. Of the dozen or so albums Nelson recorded for the label, a few are superb, particularly the first, "Country Willie -- His Own Songs" (1965), recently reissued on Buddha, and "Yesterday's Wine" (1971). Most, however, are pretty forgettable -- and long out of print. None sold very well. "Country Favorites -- Willie Nelson Style," from 1966, is a little-known gem from this period that deserves to be called a classic. (It's available on CD for the first time.) Recorded in just two days with members of the legendary Texas Troubadours, Ernest Tubb's band, the album is a showcase for Nelson's relaxed, jazzy singing style, which apparently baffled many Nashville regulars. The Troubadours, however, play with polished ease as Nelson alternates between upbeat Western swing numbers ("My Window Faces the South," "Home in San Antone") and tear-stained ballads ("Seasons of My Heart," "Go On Home"), all of which had been made famous by other singers. (None of the songs on the album were written by Nelson.) Nelson's now-famous habit of holding onto notes a little bit longer than your average country singer is especially evident on the swing numbers. On "San Antonio Rose," the Bob Wills song, he gets downright abstract as he cheerfully adds an extra syllable here and stretches a phrase there. Wade Ray, whose incendiary fiddle playing can be heard on the uptempo numbers, once said, "I've heard musicians say Willie sang out of meter. He did not sing out of meter. He phrased. He sang in front of the beat, behind the beat, and just came out at the end." Well put. "Country Favorites" spent 17 weeks on Billboard's country chart, peaking at No. 9 -- not bad, but it didn't make Nelson a superstar. "Red Headed Stranger" (1975) did that. "Country Favorites," however, showed that Nelson was a first-rate singer and an interpreter of great American songs. Nelson made this abundantly clear in 1978, when he recorded "Stardust," his collection of pop standards. But "Country Favorites" is where it all began. salon.com | Feb. 11, 2000 - - - - - - - - - - - - About the writer David Hill is a freelance writer in Denver."
One of Willie's best early LPs
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 07/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In many ways, this LP, Nelson's second for RCA, is the very root of the outlaw he would become. Though later recordings would more firmly reject the restricting conventions of Nashville, his singing and swinging with Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours shows just how early on he was beating on the edges of the RCA box.Across a catalog of twelve country standards, Nelson applies his unique phrasing, often reaching down to the bottom of his range for emotion. The Troubadours follow along ably, with the fiddle of Wade Ray providing some incredible sparks. Nelson walks across the traditional phrasings, and the band plays right along. Given the band's talent, it's probably not surprising that they're able to provide such tight and effective support to his unusual style."Stardust," Nelson's later gambol with pop standards may take Miss Popularity, but this earlier dabble with the songs of others laid out the road."