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£13.99

Country - Released October 20, 1987 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Transferring his allegiance to Atlantic (where he would record two remarkable albums that would get him kicked off the label), Willie Nelson offered his finest record to date for his debut -- possibly his finest album ever. Shotgun Willie encapsulates Willie's world view and music, finding him at a peak as a composer, interpreter, and performer. This is laid-back, deceptively complex music, equal parts country, rock attitude, jazz musicianship, and troubadour storytelling. Nelson blurs the lines between his own tunes and covers to the point that "Whiskey River," this record's best-known song, seems thoroughly original, yet it was written by Johnny Bush and Paul Stroud. This, along with two songs apiece by Leon Russell and Bob Wills, provides context for his originals, with Shotgun Willie becoming a musical autobiography, offering not only insights into his musicality (witness how he slows down [RoviLink="MC"]"Stay All Night [Stay a Little Longer]"[/RoviLink] to a slow shuffle) but, seemingly, into himself (most notably on the title track and the wonderful, funny travelogue "Devil in a Sleepin' Bag"). Nelson wasn't just at a peak of performing here -- he also wrote some of his greatest songs, highlighted not just by the previously mentioned tunes but also by the lovely slow waltz "Slow Down Old World" and "Sad Songs and Waltzes." All of it adds up to possibly the finest record in a career filled with hits and highlights. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released August 30, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
If Shotgun Willie played a bit like a concept album, Phases and Stages was a full-blown one, tracing the dissolution of a marriage and devoting one side to the wife's perspective, the second to the husband's. If anything, Willie overplays his hand a bit, insisting on grafting the "Phases and Stages" theme between crucial songs to the point of genuine irritation. But, pretend that never happened, erase it from your mind, and Phases and Stages is easily the equal of its remarkable predecessor, a wonderful set of music that resonates deeply, as deeply as the words. Make no mistake -- the deceptively relaxed arrangements, including the occasional strings, not only highlight Nelson's clever eclecticism, but they also heighten the emotional impact of the album. And this is a hell of an emotional record, where even each side's celebratory honky tonk numbers (the medley "Sister's Coming Home/Down at the Corner Beer Joint" and "Pick Up the Tempo," respectively) are muted by sadness. Then, there are the centerpieces: "Walkin'," where the woman decides it's time to move on; "Pretend I Never Happened," perhaps the coldest ending to a relationship ever written; "Bloody Mary Morning," a bleary-eyed morning-after tale that became a standard; "It's Not Supposed to Be That Way," a nearly unbearably melancholy account of a love gone wrong; and "Heaven and Hell," a waltz summary of the relationship. Any two of these would have formed a strong core for an album, but placed together in a narrative context, their impact is even more considerable. As a result, this is not just one of Willie Nelson's best records, but one of the great concept albums overall. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released June 6, 2014 | Columbia Nashville

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released June 6, 2014 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released June 6, 2014 | Legacy - Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released October 11, 2013 | Legacy Recordings

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Arriving a few short months after the standards collection Let's Face the Music and Dance, which itself came less than a year after his Legacy debut Heroes, To All the Girls splits the difference between these two albums for Legacy. As a duets album comprised entirely of female partners, To All the Girls is, like Heroes, driven by superstar guest power but the intimate, relaxed feel is reminiscent of Let's Face the Music and Dance. Such a quiet, comfortable setting is welcoming to a wide variety of partners, ranging from living legends Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, and Emmylou Harris to more recent superstars Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. Between these two extremes lie such excellent, underappreciated, new alt-country singers like Brandi Carlile and the Secret Sisters, family -- both sister Paula Nelson and Melonie Cannon, the daughter of Buddy Cannon -- and stars who are working their way toward legend status (Norah Jones, Alison Krauss, Sheryl Crow, Wynnona Judd, Shelby Lynne). Similarly, the songs split the difference between new versions of Nelson classics ("Bloody Mary Morning," "Always on My Mind," "Please Don’t' Tell Me How the Story Ends"), covers of beloved songs ("Til the End of the World," "Have You Ever Seen the Rain"), and brand-new tunes (Dolly brings in "From Here to the Moon and Back," which she wrote for Joyful Noise, a gospel musical co-starring Queen Latifah). Nearly all of this proceeds at an amiably lazy gait, which makes the handful of cuts that stray from this path quite notable: "Bloody Mary Morning" retains its trademark gallop with Wynnona; Brandi Carlile hits the honky tonk fairly hard on "Making Believe"; Shelby Lynne gives a hazy south-of-the-border feel to "The End of the World," and Krauss' "No Mas Amor" is dreamy. Although there is not a bad cut here -- this is all assured, easy, impeccably tasteful work from Willie and his partners -- the 70-minute length of To All the Girls does make the album feel a little samey, but that can be a good thing, as it makes for nice, romantic mood music or a drowsy Sunday afternoon at home. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 2003 | Universal Music

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Country - Released April 12, 2013 | Legacy Recordings

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Country - Released May 11, 2012 | Legacy Recordings

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Returning to the Columbia/Sony family after nearly two decades away, Willie Nelson once again tries to be everything to everybody on 2012's Heroes, an appealingly misshapen collection of classics, contemporaries, and originals. Heroes -- its title signifying no great concept -- is roughly divided into quarters, with part of the album devoted to the Western swing and Texas country he's always loved to sing, part consisting of new songs from Willie, part originals from his son Lukas, and part covers of newer, rock-oriented tunes from the likes of Tom Waits, Eddie Vedder, and Chris Martin. Each of these categories is a bit hit-or-miss, either succumbing to cutesy novelty (the dope-smoking anthem "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," complete with country cadences from a non-rapping Snoop Dogg) or laziness, and there's a wee bit too much Lukas Nelson scattered throughout the record, with the son of the father singing on no less than nine of the album's 14 songs. This can be too much of a strong spice, obscuring the overall flavor of the music, but Lukas contributes a couple of the record's best songs in "Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her" and "The Sound of Your Memory," songs that fit well next to a quite beautiful version of Vedder's "Just Breathe" and yet another strong, swinging rendition of "My Window Faces the South." And so Heroes kind of winds up summarizing all that's good and bad about Willie as he approaches his 80th birthday: he's open to everything but has no innate editor, so he whiffs as often as he connects, but when he does connect, it's a wonder to behold...and somehow he can still surprise whenever he sings those old songs. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released September 19, 2011 | DM Digital

Whether intentionally or not, the first album after a greatest-hits collection always raises the curtain on a new era, and in Willie Nelson's case, the difference between the era recapped on 1981's Greatest Hits (& Some That Will Be) and the one started with 1982's Always on My Mind is startling. Throughout the late '70s, Nelson's freewheeling, organically eclectic music was not just the biggest thing in country, it was also some of its best, most adventurous music. Sometimes, it could fall a little flat, particularly when he kept replicating Stardust, but that was part of the charm of Nelson's unpredictability. With Always on My Mind, he teams with producer Chips Moman and embarks on a period of pernicious predictability, giving himself completely over to Moman, who moves him toward rock covers and adult contemporary pop with this record. At the time, it was a huge, huge hit -- his biggest ever, actually, spending 22 weeks at the top of the country charts, selling over four million copies, launching a platinum single with the title track (which reached number five on the pop charts), and winning the CMA's Album of the Year award. Listening to it now, all that success seems undeserved since the album not only plays as the country-pop record Willie avoided making all these years, but by consisting primarily of familiar rock covers, it also plays as pandering to the mass audience he's achieved. This is uniformly pleasant, but it's also rather straight-jacketed, hemmed in by Moman's sterile, synth-heavy productions. With "Always on My Mind" and, to a lesser extent, "Let It Be Me," it works because his production style suits the songs and Nelson sings well, but "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (complete with vocals from Waylon Jennings), and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" are all flat readings, never showing the spark in either delivery or arrangement that marks Nelson as one of popular music's great interpretive singers. Here, he sounds as he's sleepwalking and turning out product for the first time in his career (at least the early Liberty recordings were a hungry attempt at hits). It may have been a hit, but years later, it clearly sounds like one of his worst records. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released November 20, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Country - Released November 21, 2011 | R&J Records

Remember Me, Vol. 1 will undoubtedly have a lot of volumes following in its wake, since the premise is unlimited, with Willie Nelson revisiting and recording his favorite country hits from the past 70 years in his signature Willie Nelson style, backed by some of Nashville’s finest session musicians. Among the highlights here are Nelson's versions of Ernest Tubb's “Remember Me,” Webb Pierce's “Slowly,” Porter Wagoner's “Satisfied Mind,” Ray Price's “Release Me,” and Merle Haggard's “Ramblin’ Fever,” although each track has its own kind of hushed and easy-flowing grace to it. ~ Steve Leggett
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Country - Released June 10, 2003 | RCA Camden

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Country - Released June 8, 2006 | Charly Records

Collecting material dating from the mid-1960s and early '70s, December Days features a variety of classic Willie Nelson songwriting, including the country-meets-rock & roll of "I Don't Feel Anything," the straight-ahead country lament "Who Do I Know in Dallas," and his heartwarming tearjerker, "Home Is Where You're Happy." Despite their obvious quality, most of these recordings remained unpublished until well after Nelson had found fame as a founder member of the outlaw country brigade in the mid-'70s.
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Country - Released February 28, 1994 | Capitol Nashville

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Willie Nelson in the magazine