Picks and Pans Review: Will the Wolf Survive

updated 04/28/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/28/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Waylon Jennings

On the liner notes, Jennings thanks MCA executive Don "Dirt" Lanier "for bird-dogging the songs," as well he might. Even for the usually shrewd Jennings, this is a remarkable batch of modern country tunes, appropriate to the growly wisdom that Waylon's voice suggests he has picked up over his 48 years. The title song, from Los Lobos, and John Scott Sherrill's They Ain't Got 'Em All celebrate rugged individualism. Steve Earle's The Devil's Right Hand is an implicit argument for gun control. Working Without a Net (Don Cook-Gary Nicholson-John Jarvis) lets Jennings sing, not unknowingly, of the triumph of love over addiction. It's still tempting to long for Jennings' old band—especially steel guitar player Ralph Mooney—but he's backed on this album by a not-too-shabby studio group that includes Mark O'Connor on mandolin. Whatever considerations led Jennings to switch labels from RCA to MCA don't appear to have affected his ability to produce invigorating, intelligent music. (MCA)

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