Picks and Pans Review: Writer

updated 12/03/1984 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/1984 01:00AM

Willie Nelson & Kris Kristofferson

In the early '70s, Kristofferson, the Pomona College graduate, Rhodes Scholar and card-carrying intellectual, was the one who made the world safe for country music, giving it a new respectability. Nelson, with the musicianship, insight and bare-bones artistry he laid over his down-home delivery, made country music safe for the world, proving that crossover success needn't dilute the form. In recent years both have become big stars, for better or worse. It has certainly been the worse for their songwriting. This album, however, is full of tunes that rank with the best either of them has ever done, which is saying just about as much as you can say about a popular song. Nelson's Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Easy (written with his harmonica player, Mickey Raphael) and Who'll Buy My Memories are brimming over with all the late-night world-weariness of an intelligent man who has had just enough to drink. Nelson solos on those tracks and sings a classic good ole boys' duet with Kristofferson on Kris' Eye of the Storm ("Bad love is better/ Than no love at all/ At least you know you're alive"). Kristofferson's solo performances include Under the Gun, a touching, subtle antiwar song he co-wrote with Gene Clark, and the wry Down to Her Socks—"Sometimes when you take a good stiff shot to the heart/ It kind of stuns you/ And it takes a while/ For the message to get down on to your feet." This album would be a thoroughgoing pleasure in any case. But it is an especially satisfying experience because it proves that there is still fresh music brewing in the imaginations of these two wonderfully creative men. (CBS)

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