Album: Willie Nelson, Stripped (RCA)
Friday 24 April 2009
While his growing success as a songwriter – thanks to hits like Patsy Cline's "Crazy" – was enough to win Willie Nelson a recording contract of his own in 1964, it wasn't enough to secure him control over the way his songs were treated.
In those days, the saccharine "Nashville sound" dominated country music, so producers routinely ladled soupy strings and corny choirs over everything, regardless of the material or the performer. In Willie's case, their jarring incongruity effectively crippled his career: it wouldn't be until he left RCA over a decade later that he would score a hit album, significantly with the stripped-down Red Headed Stranger. Over four decades later, his harmonica player Mickey Raphael has "un-produced" some of these original RCA tracks to leave just the small combo backings – a restoration process which works to the benefit of songs such as "The Party's Over" through leaving Willie's voice more nakedly vulnerable. In some cases, the removal of all the high-register elements tends to overbalance the mix, while in others it leaves his quiet baritone stranded – an effect which actually works to the benefit of "The Ghost" and the anti-war tract "Jimmy's Road", where the stark beauty of the reduced palette matches the sombre subjects perfectly.
Download this: "The Party's Over", "I Just Dropped By", "The Ghost", "Jimmy's Road"
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Baby rescued 1km out to sea after parents forgot about her
- 5 Greek debt crisis: The photograph that conveys the despair of Greece's elderly
Bad luck, One Direction: Paul McCartney doubts success of The Beatles will ever be matched again
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
The Crystal Maze: Richard O’Brien confirmed to return as more details revealed about show's rebooted format
Guillaume Tell's gang-rape scene caused uproar at the Royal Opera House – but the portrayal of extreme sex and violence on stage is nothing new
Britain's best outdoor cinemas to visit this summer from Somerset House to Luna Cinema
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture