Nashville Was the Roughest

by: Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson's '60s recordings for RCA have long been the subject of critical disdain due to the supposed ill fit between Nelson's idiosyncratic style and the conventions of the Nashville sound era. In fact, Nelson's RCA material is largely of high quality, his modest hits from this period were often excellent, and his uniqueness comes through no matter how syrupy the orchestration (which isn't always the case -- the production on many of these tracks is quite spare). This deluxe eight-CD box set compiles everything Nelson recorded during his eight years with RCA, including a complete live set, unreleased recordings, rough takes of songs that would later surface on his A&M albums, and his few early-'60s recordings for Monument. Nelson covers Western swing, pop-country, ballads, and versions of classic country songs in minimalist fashion with his jazzy phrasing fully developed. In fact, those who have been frightened away from these recordings by critics may be surprised by how little they differ from his '70s sound. Fans will delight over the LP-sized hardback book that accompanies this set and the opportunity to review a neglected episode in the Willie saga. ~ Greg Adams

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