I'm not a very good music reviewer. I accept that about myself. I tend to use a lot of words such as like, great, awesome, horrid. I'm not very creative when it comes to telling why I like an album. It's even harder for me when I don't enjoy something. I sort of clam up because I'm afraid of offending anyone. It's my eager-to-please self rearing it's ugly head I suppose.
I was sent a copy of Willie Nelson's "Naked Willie" and I was very excited. I love Willie Nelson and always have. Seven Spanish Angels is one of my all-time favorite songs and has been for a very long time. Well I popped the CD into my car CD player on my way to pick food up for supper last week. I could almost hear crickets singing. The music was so not what I was expecting. Honestly, I really don't know what I was expecting, Don't Let Your Baby's Grow Up To Be Cowboys maybe, I don't know, but this was definitely not it. And the odd thing is is that the CD is pure Willie Nelson music. It's not that it's really any different than what you'd expect from Willie, it's just not the type of music I enjoy. Very old timey, slow, and dare I say it, boring. At least to me. I've read other reviews where the reviewer fawned over the music and said it was some of Willie's best. I guess it's just a matter of what your musical preferences are.
Now a little about the CD that is fact based and not just my opinion. From the back of the CD...
After establishing himself as a major Nashville songwriter (he wrote "Crazy" for Patsy Cline, among others). Willie Nelson signed his first serious artist contract at RCA in 1964. At that time, the producers and A&R men like Chet Atkins were boss. Singers weren't allowed to select arrangements, musicians, studios - any of the key factors in making the records the artists has in mind. Willie was constantly frustrated by the syrupy strings, vocal group choruses and generally "slick" final product.
Fast forward to 2008, Willie and long-time harmonica player Mickey Raphael are casually wondering what those records would or could sound like if only the multi-track tapes could be tracked down and the songs re-mixed with the original intent in mind. Gone are the strings and gangs of back-up singers. Gone, in fact, is most of the production that always enveloped the songs.
Naked Willie is a new collection of 17 vintage RCA sides - spanning 1966-1970 - FINALLY the Willie way.
Honestly, the music on the CD is awesome because it's Willie Nelson doing what he loves. You can tell he enjoyed himself, it just wasn't music that suited my pallet, and that's okay, not everything is going to agree with me. The true Willie Nelson fan, though, will love this. The music shows a wide range of Willie, from bluesy to country to everything in between. So I suggest if you are a Nelson collector or just someone who likes the older sounds of more classic country, this is a CD to add to your collection. If Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood are your idea of classic country then I can tell with nearly 100% accuracy that this will not be on your Christmas wish list.
Love you Willie...Naked Willie, not so much.
If you'd like to listen to all of Naked Willie, CMT is streaming it here.
Tracks on CD:
- Bring Me Sunshine
- Following Me Around
- The Ghost
- Happiness Lives Next Door
- I Just Dropped By
- Jimmy's Road
- I Let My Mind Wander
- If You Could See What's Going Through My Mind
- Johnny One Time
- The Local Memory
- The Party's Over
- Where Do You Stand?
- When We Live Again
- What Can You Do To Me Now?
- I'm a Memory
- Sunday Morning Coming Down
- Laying My Burdens Down