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One for the Road

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Album Review

One for the Road, Willie Nelson's duet record with fellow American music maverick Leon Russell, followed months after his freewheeling, jam-heavy double album Willie and Family Live. This record (once a double LP, now a single CD) wasn't recorded live and the songs run a little shorter, but it shares the same sort of loose spirit and easy-rolling eclecticism as the two, essentially backed by the Family, run through a mess of country and pop standards. The latter makes up for the second half and its appropriately a little more subdued feel, but it's earthier than Stardust and it makes a good companion for the irresistible first half, which is often cheerfully rowdy (particularly on the dynamite opening triptych of "Detour," "I Saw the Light," and "Heartbreak Hotel") and convincingly bluesy on the ballads and mid-tempo groovers like the excellent "Trouble in Mind." Both Nelson and Russell are known as sharp interpreters of other people's material, and teamed together, they might not reinvent these songs (though they come close on "Heartbreak Hotel"), but they infuse a lot of sound and spirit into these songs. It's a little bit too laid-back and easy to qualify as a no-holds-barred classic (particularly on the second half), but that mellow charm is precisely why it's a small, priceless gem for any serious fan of either singer.


Born: 30 April 1933 in Fort Worth, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As a songwriter and a performer, Willie Nelson played a vital role in post-rock & roll country music. Although he didn't become a star until the mid-'70s, Nelson spent the '60s writing songs that became hits for stars like Ray Price ("Night Life"), Patsy Cline ("Crazy"), Faron Young ("Hello Walls"), and Billy Walker ("Funny How Time Slips Away") as well as releasing a series of records on Liberty and RCA that earned him a small but devoted cult following. During the early '70s, Willie aligned himself...
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