Originally released in 1979, as a double album Willie Nelson was, at the time going through a prolific spell of making duet albums. It all started in 1976 with the RCA release Wanted! The Outlaws (w/ Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser) followed by Waylon & Willie in 1978, and his collaboration with Leon (Russell). Others to partner him on duet albums were then to include Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass, Roger Miller, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Hank Snow, Webb Pierce and others too. Plus there was his part in The Highwaymen; there was simply no stopping him!
I may at the time shied a little away from One For The Road when it was first released, but in the passing of time my affection for it has grown measurably (for the first half of the recording that is). Blending like brothers Willie and Leon are not only joined by long time members of Willie’s Family band; Paul English, Jody Payne, Mickey Raphael etc…and have guest vocals from Maria Muldaur, and some feisty slide guitar from Bonnie Raitt on old blues standard “Trouble In Mind”; (a five-star cover) to go with some likewise meaty harmonica (Raphael), and of course Nelson and Russell’s bruising vocals. What a terrific version!
All in all the music, and the pairing of their voices works a treat throughout the ten songs. and even the opening track of what was the second LP of the original release “Danny Boy”. But from then on they lose me. “Summertime” , “Far Away Places”, “Stormy Weather” and the like do little for me; and Nelson has repeated his error a couple more times since on solo albums. Unique though his phrasing and playing of his guitar, trigger (likewise goes for Russell, he too has done better, a whole lot better) the songs tend to drag.
Fast rewind to the opening selection, the selections are at times inspired. You have some wonderful songs and a flood of stirring interpretations by as they run through with verve the likes of “Detour”, “I Saw The Light and you from the big screen you have a delightful version of western tune “Don’t Fence Me In” to go with cheery piece “You Are My Sunshine”. Hence, I have to say the two LP set is a classic case of chalk and cheese between the music offered.
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