Houston Calling

Review: Willie Nelson, The Complete Atlantic Sessions 1973-1974

July 8th, 2006 · No Comments

Wille Nelson
The Complete Atlantic Sessions 1973-1974

The Complete Atlantic Sessions 1973-1974 might not contain the best of Willie Nelson’s music, but it comes close. Shotgun Willie, the first of three discs included in this new box set, is a favorite among Nelson fans and is a hotbed of early gems. One of the pioneers of the “outlaw country” movement, Nelson rides the line between criminal and troubador and his personal infamy over the past few decades only serves to increase his mystique and credibility.

This set includes a second disc of outtakes, alternate versions, and demos of the album’s songs, and is a must for fans. The previously unissued versions of “Whiskey River,” “My Cricket & Me,” “A Song For You,” and “I Drank All of Our Precious Love Away” are worth the price of the set.

The set’s second album is the low-key Phases and Stages, which pales in comparison to Shotgun Willie. While it may be a more personal album (the first half tells the dissolution of a relationship from the woman’s point of view, while the second gives the male’s perspective), the songs don’t hold up nearly as well. “Bloody Mary Morning” is a good contrast to “Washing The Dishes,” but the album’s flow and subject matter detract from the overall experience. Similarly, the album’s expanded second disc has plenty of alternate versions to offer hardcore fans but there’s little substance to merit a second listen.

What does, however, is the third CD included in the box set — Live at the Texas Opry House — which catches Willie in his element and his prime. The performance is a true look back at a time before country music became akin to eighties hair metal.

Tags: Music

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