Nashville Rebel (RCA / Columbia Legacy)
Reviewed by Dan Oko, Fri., Oct. 20, 2006
Nashville Rebel (RCA/Columbia Legacy)
There are those who will never get enough of the Outlaw Country served up by Littlefield's Waylon Jennings, who, along with Lone Star homeboys Willie Nelson and Billy Joe Shaver, more or less created the genre. The 4-CD, Texas-sized Nashville Rebel will have these fans beside themselves with pleasure. Rebel starts off sweetly, with the Buddy Holly-produced "Jole Blon" and charts the highs and lows of Jennings' long and fruitful career, from his studio sides with Chet Atkins to his collaboration with Shaver and the Southern comforts of the theme from Dukes of Hazard. According to the worthy liner notes by music historian Rich Kienzle, Jennings preferred to be called Waymore, and Waymore fought Atkins tooth and nail when it came to the smooth delivery the RCA producer wanted the young baritone to adopt. (Strangely, the title track by Harlan Howard epitomizes this much-derided Nashville sound.) Even so, Jennings remains a mercurial talent. The first disc follows his career through 1969 and includes Gordon Lightfoot's "(That's What You Get) for Lovin' Me" and the hippy-dip "Love of the Common People." It doesn't take much to figure out the reasons Jennings wanted to get out of Nashville, Tenn., even if ultimately all of his hit recordings were made there. The tracks reach a full gallop on disc two, which features perennial favorites "Ladies Love Outlaws," "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean," and the Shaver-penned "Honky Tonk Heroes." The winners keep on coming on the third CD with "Good Hearted Woman," "Luckenbach, Texas," and a ripping cover of Neil Young's "Are You Ready for the Country." By the last disc and Waymore's final decade, Rebel starts feeling a bit padded. It may sound sacrilegious, but hearing Waylon & Willie cover the Eagles' "Take It to the Limit," it's simply impossible to conclude Hank would have done it this way.