Willie Nelson

Willie is back on his standards tear again. This time, though, a lot of the oldies he has chosen are second-rate—To Each His Own, I Can't Begin to Tell You and Golden Earrings among them. While it's admirable for Nelson to recycle old songs for new generations of listeners, and he's still a remarkable singer, this material is less able to stand on its own than were the classics on his Stardust album. Booker T. Jones, who produced that huge hit, did this one too. Saddled with Nelson's mediocre backup band, he may not have had many options, but fills by a string section (from the London Symphony Orchestra) and some horns don't help much. These songs and Jones' bare bones arrangements miss the spark that could have been added by mainstream jazz accompanists with a feel for this kind of music. There is also one truly embarrassing track, a stilted odd-couple duet with Spanish star Julio Iglesias on As Time Goes By. Don't play it again, Willie.