Picks and Pans Review: What a Wonderful World

updated 10/17/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/17/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Willie Nelson

So what modern male singer would one expect to take on Some Enchanted Evening? Luciano Pavarotti, perhaps? Placido Domingo? Gary Morris? Sorry. It's Willie. Now, Willie has many admirable qualities, but a resemblance to Ezio Pinza is not among them. Nelson's version of the South Pacific classic is not bad; it is abysmally, laughably rotten. Then there's Moon River, which is the huckleberry friend of only those people who still go around whistling You Light Up My Life. And his duet with Julio Iglesias on Spanish Eyes serves as a reminder of the Ray Stevens parody of the Iglesias-Nelson hit, To All the Girls I've Loved Before. Put down those pens, though, Nelson fans. This is a warning, not a diatribe. Ignore those three tracks, and this is a terrific album, comparable to Nelson's Stardust, the record that made the world safe for grizzled country singers to perform pop standards. Among the tunes Willie brings back, and appealingly, are Hoagy Carmichael's ambling tune from the Canyon Passage sound track, Ole Buttermilk Sky, and Johnny Mercer's evergreen Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive. Great to hear again too are To Each His Own by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans (a swing era standby for such singers as Eddy Howard) and the Buck Ram-Morton Nevins-Al Nevins tune Twilight Time, which has served everyone from the Three Suns to the Platters. Nelson's loyalty to his longtime band members remains worthy of praise in some ways, yet these songs could be even more attractive than they are with more imaginative backing. Perhaps fans could agree not to gripe about Willie's band if he in return would promise not to do My Way or Indian Love Call on his next standards album. (Columbia)

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