Picks and Pans Review: Willie Nelson

UPDATED 08/01/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/01/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

Countryman

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Originally recorded 10 years ago, this "lost" reggae disc has been sitting on a shelf like a mediocre bottle of wine because of creative differences with Nelson's previous record label. Its collection of countrified island sounds and Jamaicanized country would hardly have been great in 1995, and it's far from great now. Then-hot producer Don Was made the mistake of bringing in bona-fide reggae singer Toots Hibbert to duet with Nelson on Johnny Cash's "I'm a Worried Man," awkwardly playing Nelson's tight, controlled style against Hibberf s loose-as-a-goose approach, which is so much more suited to the genre. Nelson sounds considerably more natural when he overlays reggae arrangements onto his own tunes—such as "I've Just Destroyed the World" and "Something to Think About"—than when Jimmy Cliff's songs "The Harder They Come" and "Sitting in Limbo" are crammed into slightly stiff country arrangements that feature Nelson's own minimalist guitar playing. "The Harder They Come," especially, makes Nelson sound uncommonly uncomfortable. The overall effect is what might have happened had Bob Marley gone to Nashville to make an album. One can only hope that Willie doesn't have his version of The Barber of Seville or Willie Raps lying around somewhere.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Something to Think About"

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