Main Street Music



Format: CD
Catalog: 470602
Rel. Date: 07/12/2005
UPC: 602498820551

Artist: Willie Nelson
Format: CD
New: In Stock $13.99

Formats and Editions


''Countryman'' is an album by Willie Nelson. Ten years in the making, Nelson's first ever reggae album merges the gospel and spirit found in both country and reggae. It was released on CD format on August 2, 2005 by the Lost Highway label. Nelson made two videos for this album "The Harder They Come" and "I'm a Worried Man" both videos were filmed in Jamaica. - Wikipedia

Willie Nelson is one prolific sucker. In the last four years he's dropped 25 albums on six labels. He never turns in a bad live performance, but he records a lot of filler, recycling his back catalogue and repackaging hits with the enthusiasm major labels expend on dead stars like Elvis. It's nice Nelson is alive to collect royalties, and he seems too laid back to consciously milk every last dollar out of his music; maybe he's just too stoned to notice how many times he's cut the same track, in just about the same way, for most of the same fans.

Countryman is billed as the "lost reggae album," but that's just corporate hyperbole. Once upon a time, Nelson was signed to Island Records. Island head Chris Blackwell thought a country/reggae album would be a great idea and recording commenced in 1996. In the meantime, the music business imploded and Nelson's project was lost amidst the frenzy of corporate mergers. Once the dust cleared, the reggae masters became the property of Universal Music Group, owner of Lost Highway, Nelson's current home, and the project was completed. It was worth finishing too. The laid-back rhythms of classic reggae are a natural backdrop for Nelson's vocals-it's a perfect marriage, right down to the marijuana plant on the cover.

The first thing that grabs your attention is Robby Turner's pedal steel and dobro playing. It's not country, it's not Hawaiian; it's something new that flows through the mix, bringing an innovative feel to tunes like "How Long Is Forever" and "Something to Think About." Well placed dub effects and echoplex drum drops add drama to "Do You Mind Too Much If I Don't Understand?" and Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" gets a country makeover with a bare bones vocal, sparse guitar, accordion and percussion accompaniment, and some soulful I-Three-like back-up by Pam Hall and Lieba Thomas. Chestnuts like "Undo the Right," "One in a Row" and "Darkness on the Face of the Earth" wear their new reggae clothes well, with arrangements that echo the roots, rock and reggae sound of the '70s. Nelson's vocals dominate the album, which is no surprise, though with all the fanfare about Willie going reggae you'd expect something a little bit less retro. As it is, it's just another good, not great, Willie Nelson album.

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