Essential Willie Nelson [Bonus Tracks]

Essential Willie Nelson [Bonus Tracks]

by Willie NelsonWillie Nelson


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Willie Nelson recorded for many labels during the course of his lengthy career, but his greatest commercial success arrived during his time on Columbia during the late '70s and early '80s, which is one of the reasons that the career-spanning double-disc collection The Essential Willie Nelson appeared on Columbia/Legacy in 2003. The other reason, of course, is that during the first part of the 2000s, Legacy had been turning out cross-licensed, multi-label compilations of artists who hopped around from label to label or had unwieldy careers. Willie is a perfect example of this, as he had five significant stays at labels (in chronological order: Liberty, RCA, Atlantic, Columbia, Island), surrounded by a bunch of detours to independent labels, or duets never featured on his official records, all of which makes the task of assembling a concise, definitive collection a difficult one. With its 41 tracks, spanning nearly 40 years of recording, The Essential Willie Nelson gets about as close as a set could to providing the basics. That doesn't mean that it's perfect, of course. It naturally relies heavily on the Columbia recordings, since it was both his popular peak and the label that released this collection, with 25 of the tracks dating from this era. To a certain extent, this shortchanges the brilliant Atlantic records Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages, as well as his fascinatingly erratic RCA recordings (found in their entirety on the Bear Family box Nashville Was the Roughest), but it's also true that the entire first disc, which runs from "Night Life" and "Hello Walls" through "Me and Paul" and "Bloody Mary Morning," all the way to Stardust, has a great momentum and summarizes this transition very well. The second disc picks up this thread well for the first 12 songs or so, covering Honeysuckle Rose and "Always on My Mind," along with some duets ("Pancho & Lefty" with Merle Haggard, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" with Julio Iglesias) before it loses steam as it approaches the mid-'80s -- not so coincidentally, precisely the time that Willie's career was briefly derailed in a dispute with the IRS. From here on out, the compilation relies too heavily on idiosyncratic selections (partially because he stopped having hits, making selection a matter of picking fan favorites) and duets, including the rarities "Slow Dancing" and "One Time Too Many," where Willie is backed by U2 and Aerosmith, respectively, giving the very end of this collection an inappropriately sour aftertaste. These are minor problems, since the overall collection is as generous as Willie Nelson's music itself and it will likely satisfy the needs of most listeners wanting only one disc in their collection. [A 2015 CD re-release added four bonus tracks.]

Product Details

Release Date: 10/16/2015
Label: Sony Legacy
UPC: 0888430404021
catalogNumber: 304040
Rank: 4036

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Willie Nelson   Primary Artist

Technical Credits

Chet Atkins   Producer
Ed Bruce   Composer
Lefty Frizzell   Composer
Waylon Jennings   Composer,Producer
David Lynn Jones   Composer
Kris Kristofferson   Composer
Willie Nelson   Composer,Producer
Dolly Parton   Composer
Ray Pennington   Producer
Johnnie Lee Wills   Composer
Steve Goodman   Composer
Irving Berlin   Composer
Hoagy Carmichael   Composer
Ry Cooder   Composer
John Hiatt   Composer
Elvis Presley   Composer
Leon Russell   Producer
Albert Hammond   Composer
Jimmy Webb   Composer
Johnny Bush   Composer
Claude Gray   Composer
Troy Seals   Composer
Mark James   Composer
Frank Loesser   Composer
Joe Allison   Producer
Rich Alves   Composer
Jimmy Beck   Composer
Walt Breeland   Composer
Paul Buskirk   Composer
Buddy Cannon   Composer,Producer
Johnny Christopher   Composer
Hal David   Composer
James Luther Dickinson   Composer
Felton Jarvis   Producer
Booker T. Jones   Producer
Daniel Lanois   Producer
Arif Mardin   Producer
Chips Moman   Producer
Richard Perry   Producer
Sydney Pollack   Producer
Fred Rose   Composer
Eddie Setser   Composer
Larry Shell   Composer
Billy Sherrill   Producer
Townes Van Zandt   Composer
Sharon Vaughn   Composer
Eddie Vedder   Composer
Don Was   Producer
Jerry Wexler   Producer
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys   Composer
Stuart Gorrell   Composer
Mae Boren Axton   Composer
Norman Seeff   Back Cover Photo
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
David Gahr   Cover Photo
Tommy Durden   Composer
Wayne Carson Thompson   Composer
Patsy Bruce   Composer
Andrew Kent   Back Cover,Inside Photo
Jamey Johnson   Composer
Marla Cannon   Composer
Mike McQuerry   Composer
John Colgin   Composer
Rich Kienzie   Liner Notes

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