Willie Nelson and Jackie King

Rainbow Connection, and The Gypsy (Island)

Record Reviews

Willie Nelson

Rainbow Connection (Island)

Jackie King with Willie Nelson

The Gypsy (Indigo Moon)

The latest additions to Willie Nelson's canon are two, a children's album, Rainbow Connection, and a jazz date, The Gypsy, the LP for grown-ups. With Nelson doing his best Kermit the Frog on the title track to Rainbow, there's no mistaking the two. The granddad of alt.Americana (alt.country, alt.folk, alt.phonebook) wastes no time in a rousing chorus of "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover," mourns "Ol' Blue" with six-string sidekick Trigger, lubes "Won't You Ride in My Little Red Wagon," and finally chops down the family oak with "I'm My Own Grandpa," a matchup worth bronzing. Kiddilicious. It's right then, however, with "Rock Me to Sleep," that it's time to put the children to bed. Big folks be "Playin' Dominoes and Shootin' Dice." On the "Outskirts of Town." Where they "Just Dropped in (To See What Condition My Condition Was In"), before it's over the Rainbow with the sage, last-rites lament of "The Thirty-Third of August." Everyone off the life cycle. Most Valuable Prodigy goes to fleet-fingered Gabe Rhodes, who continues to hit in the big leagues, and if Nelson's daughter Amy is no Kimmie Rhodes (Gabe's honey-voiced mother), Rainbow Connection is no less whole. Same goes for the back-room sextet on Jackie King's The Gypsy. Ostensibly the Lone Star axe-man's late-night jam session, Nelson croons enough noninstrumentals for The Gypsy to be him. As he bops through "San Antonio Rose," King blazes through "Cherokee." Nelson's jaunty "Heart of a Clown" would, of course, fit right in on Rainbow Connection, but its inclusion on The Gypsy only proves Willie Nelson, King, and Kermit the Frog should maybe cut "It's Not Easy Being Green."

(Rainbow) ***.5

(Gypsy) ***

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