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Country - Released June 1, 1975 | RCA Victor

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released January 12, 1976 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released July 1, 1973 | RCA Records Label Nashville

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released January 12, 1976 | RCA Records Label Nashville

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released May 1, 2007 | RLG - Legacy

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Country - Released March 1, 1973 | RLG - BMG Heritage

Lonesome, On'ry and Mean is the quintessential Waylon Jennings outlaw record. Waylon produced the set -- the first unfettered by the bonds of RCA -- with his own band, and the results are nothing less than electrifying. Steve Young, the perennial country and folk music outsider, may have penned the title cut, but Waylon's delivery as an anthem bears in it all of his years of frustration at not being able to make the music he wanted to. Fury is a better word for what is heard in the grain of the song's lyrics. Young's own version is devastating, but this one is transcendent. (And why is it that Travis Tritt was picked to sing this at Waylon's memorial instead of Young, who was also present? Talk about misguided justice.) But the boundaries between rock & roll and country come down once again on this album in Kris Kristofferson's "Me & Bobby McGee," as folk and post-psychedelia meet Texas in Mickey Newbury's "San Francisco Mabel Joy" and the broken, road-weary pop honky tonk balladry of Danny O'Keefe's "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues." Add to this Johnny Cash's "Gone to Denver" and Willie Nelson's "Pretend I Never Happened," and you have an outsider's dream. That the rest of the recording is just as consistent, just as seamless in its execution, production, and delivery, makes Lonesome, On'ry and Mean the first seriously pitched battle in the 1970s country music wars. And this one went to Jennings and his fans, hands down. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Country - Released June 1, 1976 | RLG - BMG Heritage

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If the heavy-hitters of outlaw country were acting like rock stars during their mid-'70s peak, then perhaps it was inevitable that the outlaws would start singing rock songs -- which is precisely what Waylon Jennings did on 1976's Are You Ready for the Country. Although the title is taken from Neil Young's song -- which provides an absolutely storming opener for this ten-song record -- there is a bit of a jibe to its sentiment as well, since Waylon not only sings Young, but also the Marshall Tucker Band and Dr. Hook, along with reviving Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park." That selection of material indicates not just the increasing rock-isms of Waylon and the outlaws, it also indicates that Jennings' focus was beginning to blur slightly as he lost the sense of purpose that propelled his records of the first half the '70s, from The Taker/Tulsa to Dreaming My Dreams. Here, the music hasn't really changed, but the flow is no longer seamless and the shifting tones can be a little jarring. Also, Jennings' songwriting starts to slip a little bit here; none of his originals are bad, and "I'll Go Back to Her" is quite good, but they're all decidedly second tier. All things considered, though, most of the individual moments hold up quite well, with "Are You Ready for the Country" and a wonderful, surging take on Marshall Tucker's "Can't You See" ranking among Waylon's best music of the era. There are other very good moments, such as the cracking "Jack a Diamonds," and the entire record is entertaining, but more for a collection of moments than a cohesive whole. That's the first time since the late '60s that one of Jennings' albums felt like less than the sum of its parts, and if it didn't necessarily mark the end of the era, it did mark the point when he started to ease back from his startling peak of creativity. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released September 1, 1974 | RCA - Legacy

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Country - Released September 1, 1972 | RLG - Legacy

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Even though Waylon Jennings virtually disowned this album as a hoodwink job by RCA brass and some of these tracks were unfinished and others mere demos, Ladies Love Outlaws nonetheless has some very fine moments, including Jennings' version of "Delta Dawn," a fine emotionally wrought read of Hoyt Axton's "Never Been to Spain" (which Jennings claimed was never intended for release), and Mickey Newbury's "Frisco Depot" (one of the few tracks the singer considered complete). In addition, there's Ralph Mooney's (who plays pedal steel in this band) classic honky tonk anthem "Crazy Arms" and one of the reclusive Lee Clayton's best songs in the title track. Listeners also get a solid, moving duet version of "Under Your Spell Again," with Jessi Colter. These performances offer Jennings in deeply expressive terrain as a vocalist. He wrings emotion from songs rather than merely projecting them into a microphone, and his band, which includes bassist Norbert Putnam and drummer Kenny Butrey as well as guitarist Dave Kirby and pianist Hargus Robbins, turns the volume up a point or two and lends a slippery greasy hand to the entire proceeding. Ladies Love Outlaws is not a perfect Waylon album, but it's worth owning for the fact that while Jennings may have disliked the finished result, he proves to be no judge of his own work. In essence, this is the outlaw primer, and the beginning of the opening of the field. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Country - Released April 1, 1974 | RCA - Legacy

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North America - Released July 25, 2014 | Stockfisch Records

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Country - Released March 23, 2004 | RLG - BMG Heritage

It's a music criticism cliché to complain about the title of a collection like Ultimate Waylon Jennings, to snipe that the album doesn't live up to the promise of its title when, after all, the Ultimate series is merely RCA/BMG's response to Sony's popular Essentials series. Still, when a compilation falls as short of the mark as this, it's hard not to grumble. Ultimate Waylon Jennings suffers from the need to be evenhanded and to extend the compilation to his less popular and less artistically successful '80s recordings, including a selection from the supergroup the Highwaymen. This comes at the expense of any '60s hit outside of "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line," any song from the immortal Honky Tonk Heroes, several hits (including many number ones), and a lot of great album tracks and minor hits. Of course, these kind of omissions are inevitable when a career as rich and prolific as Waylon's is condensed to a mere 22 tracks, but the problem is that there is too much emphasis on late-'70s material and too many tracks from the '80s (a full seven songs), and there are too many classic tracks missing. Nevertheless, there are enough classics present -- such as "The Taker," "I'm a Ramblin' Man," "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," and "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" -- to make it an enjoyable listen, but there are so many good Waylon compilations on the market that there's not much reason to get this, even if it's billed as Ultimate. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released April 1, 1979 | RCA Records Label Nashville

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Country - Released December 1, 1976 | RLG - BMG Heritage

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Country - Released April 1, 1977 | RLG - BMG Heritage

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Ol' Waylon was released when Waylon Jennings had become a superstar. Outlaw was still popular, perhaps at its peak, but it was no longer the movement that it had been just a few short years before. As if offering proof, Waylon cut his most formulaic album since the early '60s, a record that satisfied the demands of outlaw without ever stretching them. Since this was recorded at a near-peak of not only his popularity but his power, there are some great moments on Ol' Waylon, particularly on the lead single "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)," a wonderful reminiscence of times back, "If You See Me Getting Smaller," and "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself." The rest of the record is a little formulaic and reliant on covers, sometimes enjoyably (including a version of Kenny Rogers' "Lucille"), sometimes not as much ("Sweet Caroline" was never suited for Waylon's style). Overall, Ol' Waylon is pretty enjoyable, but it winds up feeling a little hollow, as if Jennings was trying to give the audience what it wanted. There are enough good moments to make it worthwhile, not just to the dedicated but for some casual fans enamored of the outlaw years, but it's still an album that gets by more on its style than substance. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released September 26, 2006 | RLG - Legacy

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Country - Released June 24, 1968 | RCA - Legacy

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Only the Greatest as a title may have two meanings: the first implies the music included here, and the second implies the artist. There is a case to be made for the latter, but in the case of the former, this is only partially true. Waylon Jennings was one of the most evocative country music artists ever produced. In his long career he did everything his own way, no matter what it cost him. The 12 songs are a testament to the greatness of his mature period as an artist. These are the singles and album tracks recorded during the 1960s when Jennings had actively gone to war with his label about using his own band in the studio and recording the material he chose, not his producers or label A&R men. His readings of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman" and Bobby Bare's "Such a Waste of Love," offer the power of his voice in a setting that was equal parts honky tonk, folk, rock, and even pop. Each track here is a winner, from the best known, such as "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line" to the least, such as Harlan Howard's underappreciated classic "California Sunrise." ~ Thom Jurek
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Country - Released June 1, 1985 | RCA Records Label Nashville

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Country - Released January 22, 1968 | RCA - Legacy

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Sticking to totally musical criteria, the best tracks on this collection are so good that dismissing the gunky ones is easy. There are other criteria for rating a Waylon Jennings album but, however one looks at it, Hangin' On is one of this country artist's very special productions. Some might see distinction in the fact that the brief liner notes are written by none other than the wonderful singer Skeeter Davis. Others may treasure this particular album because it really looks like ol' Waylon is lighting up a joint on the front cover. Then, there is the ultimate criterion for judging the value of an album not only by Jennings, but by some of his associates such as Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson, at least in the eyes of a used record store buyer from North Carolina: "If they's wearin' beards, I don't want it. If they's shaven, then ah'm interested." While many publications use some sort of star system for rating records, it appears a system based on lack of beards is really the key with some types of country music. In this case, the clean-shaven Jennings was still a few years from the rumbling of heavily rock-influenced music that he would create in the '70s, but had already been pushing at country music's perceived boundaries since the middle of the decade. Considering that his groups featuring two drummers would eventually play as loud as the Rolling Stones, the fact that an acoustic dobro can practically drown out the whole band here is a pretty good indication of how relatively soft, even pretty, the music on this album is. But closer listening reveals that the dobro is being turned up really loud for certain effects, just one of many intricate touches that make certain cuts on this record absolute marvels of country music. The premier track is "I Fall in Love So Easy," which weaves together three completely different sections -- and these sections are varied in tempo, in how they are mixed, and in the feeling with which they are played. Subtle use is made of brass, sometimes in written passages in combination with harmonica. There was a lot of work put into this, producing the kind of good feeling one gets from a fine chamber group when it is really playing well. There are also a couple of tracks that clunk, one of which might be the Roy Orbison cover, no matter how well it is sung. This type of submissive personality is not the best character for Jennings to act out in a song. He does much better with the threatening slob who sings "Woman, Don't You Ever Laugh at Me" or, even better, the depressed psycho who destroyed himself over unrequited love for "Julie." A check of the songwriting credits reveals, to no surprise, that it is Jennings who wrote the latter ballad. It is one of his best originals. Those who find the John Hartford song "Gentle on My Mind" heavy trodding will need to soak their feet after listening to this album; if a cover version of the song isn't bad enough, a few minutes later a cheap imitation with similar minor chords burps up. Jennings' backup band, the Waylors, actually plays on a few tracks here, a hard-fought compromise with RCA producer Chet Atkins, who wanted his own session crew to provide backup. There are no further musical credits, and no information about who thought up the wonderful parts of this album. Call it a brilliant collaboration of Jennings and Atkins at the dawn of a new era in country music. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

Country - Released March 5, 2002 | Universal Music Enterprises

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The recordings on Hip-O's 2002 collection Phase One: The Early Years 1958-1964 have been collected many times before, in a number of different fashions, but with the exception of Bear Family's exhaustive box set The Journey: Destiny's Child, they've never been presented as clearly or as logically as they are here. Essentially, this is the first disc of that set, containing both sides of his Buddy Holly-produced 1958 single "When Sin Stops"/"Jole Blon," both sides of his 1961 single for Trend; two songs from a 1963 session (these may have been re-recorded later, but the documentation is unclear); five sides for A&M produced by Herb Alpert in the spring and fall of 1964; and nine tracks recorded in December 1964 for a Phoenix independent label. Given that chronology, it should not come as a surprise that the music here is all over the map -- a little bit of rock & roll; a little bit of Cajun; a lot of country; a little crossover pop; a sappy string-laden tribute to Buddy Holly; a cover of "Rave On," with mariachi horns; a heavy dose of folk, including covers of Ian Tyson's "Four Strong Winds" and Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"; and lots of rock & roll and country covers. In other words, it's formative recordings, finding Waylon as he was trying to find his sound -- and even if you can hear him stumble, it's a hell of an interesting journey, since it covers so much ground. Sometimes the covers are faithful, usually quite enjoyably ("Love's Gonna Live Here Again," "White Lightnin'," "Big Mamou," "Jole Blon," all fair well), but occasionally to their detriment (Waylon could sing "Crying," but not in an arrangement that copies Roy Orbison's original); sometimes they're quite inventive ("Don't Think Twice" points toward country-rock, "The House of the Rising Sun" is nicely moody). Apart from the Orbison covers, Waylon sounds comfortable in nearly every style and, in retrospect, it's amazing to hear how all these experiments would later blossom on his RCA work -- plus, there's the first version of his first great song, a gently rolling take on "Just to Satisfy You." It all adds up to a fascinating listen; that's not just a boon to collectors, it's also quite an entertaining listen. Perhaps you need to be a dedicated listener to purchase these early recordings, but if you're curious, you will be satisfied. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine