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Willie Nelson is a versatile performer. He was famous for being at the forefront of the country outlaw movement in the 70's. Released at the end of the 70's while the movement was at it's height, Nelson went against the grain with this risky offering of standards. This could have gone dreadfully for Willie but in fact what he achieved was one of his most successful and popular releases. The album is finely produced by Booker T. Jones of Booker T and the MGs. It's simply and beautifully done allowing Willie to take these songs and make them his own. It doesn't really fall into any category, as it's not really country, nor folk, nor Jazz, nor easy listening. Please excuse me for sounding utterly pretentious which I am about to do... It's Willie Nelson. The song selection is great with fantastic readings of 'Georgia on My Mind' and 'All of Me' of particular note. Willie breezes throughout with his own inventive take on phrasing and pronunciation. It's odd to think that he is one of the greatest songwriters in US music and not one composition graces this album. If you're not a Willie Nelson fan, this is a great place to start as it's probably his most accessible record. I think that the likes of Rod Stewart et al who are bursting forth with American songbook albums would do well to listen to this.
Although Willie Nelson is often termed a country performer, he has never been afraid to turn his musical hand to other genres of music. Originally released in 1970, STARDUST is an album which sees Nelson performing a range of songs in a more 'pop' style. Hearing him sing UNCHAINED MELODY and SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME is a real thrill but my favourite track is a more poppy version of his classic country song GEORGIA ON MY MIND. The album was released in 2000 as a '30th Anniversary Legacy Edition' which features the original 10 tracks on disc 1, plus a further 16 tracks on a second disc. This is definitely the version to plump for (it is available from Amazon UK for just under £12), with some great extra songs such as THAT LUCKY OLD SUN and STORMY WEATHER. If you want to get to know Willie Nelson's music, start with the country stuff, but then when you've listened to some of that, come to this album and hear him performing in a different style.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Georgia On My Mind
3 Blue Skies
4 All Of Me
5 Unchained Melody
6 September Song
7 On The Sunny Side Of The Street
8 Moonlight In Vermont
9 Don't Get Around Much Anymore
10 Someone To Watch Over Me
11 Scarlet Ribbons
12 I Can See Clearly Now