Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price

Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price

Texas Platters

Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price

Last of the Breed (Lost Highway)

They sure don't make 'em like Willie, Merle, and Ray anymore, but they didn't when honky-tonk's answer to the Three Tenors was young, either. Throughout 22 songs of Western swing, prewar pop, gospel, and meandering shuffles, the trio trades lead vocals like three old cowpokes swapping tall tales around a campfire. Mortality is obviously on their minds – how could it not at a combined age of 224? – but Harlan Howard's spry "Pick Me up on Your Way Down" affirms the trio isn't quite ready to ride off into the sunset. If, as the disc two opener suggests, Last of the Breed is a "Going Away Party," it's worth staying at until the staff starts sweeping the floor. These three have nothing left to prove, which is exactly what makes this impeccable account of three boon companions enjoying both their twilight years and one another's company such a pleasure. We shan't see their like again.

****

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Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price

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