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The Complete Atlantic Sessions Box set, Original recording remastered, Best of
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|1. Shotgun Willie|
|2. Whiskey River|
|3. Sad Songs And Waltzes|
|4. Local Memory|
|5. Slow Down Old World|
|6. Stay All Night (Stay A Little Longer)|
See all 24 tracks on this disc
|1. Phases And Stages (Theme) Washing The Dishes|
|2. Phases And Stages (Theme) Walkin'|
|3. Pretend I Never Happened|
|4. Sister's Coming Home Down At The Corner Beer Joint|
|5. (How Will I Know) I'm Falling In Love Again|
|6. Bloody Mary Morning|
See all 22 tracks on this disc
|1. Whiskey River|
|2. Me And Paul|
|3. Medley: Funny How Time Slips Away, Crazy, Night Life|
|4. Stay All Night (Stay A Little Longer) [Disc 3]|
|5. Bloody Mary Morning/Take Me Back To Tulsa|
|6. The Party's Over|
See all 15 tracks on this disc
The legendary career of Texas-born music icon Willie Nelson has spanned six decades and stands as one of contemporary music's greatest legacies. Nelson first rose to fame as a Nashville-based songwriter, penning many now timeless standards including Crazy, a top hit for Patsy Cline. Feeling constrained by the Nashville music establishment, Willie relocated to Austin in the early '70s, where the melding of rock and country audiences made a huge impression on him. He began fusing folk and roots rock with a rebellious 'outlaw' country flavor, inventing an authentic, stripped-down sound that remains vastly influential to this day. At this pivotal point in his artistic evolution, Nelson signed to Atlantic Records, delivering two signature albums revered as all-time masterpieces of his extensive repertoire, Shotgun Willie and Phases And Stages. This historic set presents remastered and expanded editions of these landmark classics, along with the also-expanded Live At The Texas Opry House, presented as a stand-alone disc for the first time.
Though Willie Nelson's career wouldn't surge until his mid-'70s label switch from Atlantic to Columbia, these recordings rank with his most significant. Before returning from Nashville to his native Texas and signing with Atlantic as its flagship country artist, Nelson had been dismissed as a journeyman writer of hits for others and a struggling recording artist who sang funny. Label honcho and producer Jerry Wexler (better known for his groundbreaking work with the likes of Aretha Franklin) encouraged Nelson to defy the dictates of conventional country and make the music that was already drawing hippies and rednecks together in Austin, while blurring the distinctions among country, blues, folk, and rock. His label debut, 1973's Shotgun Willie, now sounds over-arranged in light of the organic style he would later favor, but the title cut's a classic, Nelson's version of Leon Russell's "A Song for You" has never been bettered, and his renditions of "Whiskey River" and "Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)" have highlighted his live performances ever since. The real gem of this three-disc set is the next year's follow-up, Phases and Stages, an underheard classic of a concept album detailing the dissolution of a marriage from both the wife's and the husband's perspective, featuring some of the richest writing and most compelling vocal performances of Nelson's career. The last disc is a 1974 performance recorded on Nelson's home Austin turf, unreleased at the time, with the core of the band that still backs him today joined by virtuosic luminaries such as steel guitarist Jimmy Day and fiddler Johnny Gimble. Each of the remastered discs boasts an abundance of outtakes and alternate tracks. This music not only provided the launching pad for "outlaw country," it established Austin's reputation as a freewheeling music mecca where anything goes. --Don McLeese
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"Shotgun Willie" is the first album of this set, and it is a sporadic effort that contains more than its share of highlights, including his definitive version of "Whiskey River" (infinitely better than the dozens of live versions that are available) and the equally definitive interpretation of Leon Russell's "Song for You." "Slow Down Old World" and "She's Not For You" represent some of the best orchestrated, tear-jerking country music you'll ever hear, while the title track and "Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)" keep things loose and playful.
The masterpiece of this box set, though, is Willie's first theme album (before Columbia's "Red Headed Stranger"), entitled "Phases and Stages." The concept is simple, but brutally direct and powerful, documenting a breakup from the woman's perspective on `side one', followed by the male counterpoint on `side two'. The premise fits the stereotype of cheatin', drinkin' and cryin' songs, but Willie is a powerful songwriter and the self-indulgent sadness of the protagonists is palpable, especially on "Pretend I Never Happened" and "I Still Can't Believe You're Gone." "Bloody Mary Morning" is one of Nelson's best songs, and it is a brilliant starting point to capture the male perspective before the cold, hard truth sets in. Any fan of Country music will immediately recognize "Phases and Stages" as a timeless classic.
The surprise of this set, though (and a good reason to buy it even if you already own both of the others), is the previously unavailable live album. Recorded on Willie's home turf in Austin, Texas, it captures him performing with his most sympathetic backup musicians, including Paul English on drums (the subject of Nelson's "Me and Paul") and sister Bobby Nelson on piano. Of all the live Willie Nelson albums that are available, this is the best of the lot, capturing Willie at the height of his powers as a songwriter and as a performer. He would soon go on to become a household name, but the three CD's in this box set do the best job of capturing the reasons for his subsequent success. A Tom Ryan
After over 30 years of playing, my albums are worn out so I am especially happy Atlantic published them on CD's.
In summary, these CD's are a must for every Willie fan and anyone who likes good country music. These CD's are unusual in that each of the three albums I have tell a story. I'm sure there must be a word that describes such albums, but I'm just a fan, not in the music business.
Buy'em, you'll like'em.
1. Both "Shotgun Willie" and "Phases and Stages" have bonus tracks in this set, and those bonus tracks feature some really good material. The additional tracks are not available on the standard Atlantic issues of those titles.
2. This set includes "Live at the Texas Opry House." This excellent recording of a 1974 concert is only available as part of this box set.