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Willie Nelson and Ray Price

San Antonio Rose – 2003 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Willie Nelson and Ray Price

Willie Nelson's gain was Johnny Paycheck's loss, apparently. Way back when, Willie took over as Ray Price's bassist after Donnie Young, aka Johnny Paycheck, decided to split Price's Cherokee Cowboys. Some 30 years later Willie, in one of his many duet frenzies, recorded this album in 1980 with his former boss. This, of course, was recorded several years after Willie had been ordained as country's baddest outlaw, and it's really little more than a couple old pals getting together to record some of their favorites.

Its re-release among Willie's 70th birthday celebration acts probably more of a showcase for Johnny Gimble's fiddle than anything else. He saws some awfully nice licks on "Crazy Arms," and his lonesome solo on the title cut is the stuff that made Gimble a multiple award winner throughout the '70s and '80s.

The bonus tracks are pleasant enough, with both crooning on "Just Call Me Lonesome" and Willie flying solo on "My Life's Been a Pleasure."

And, ultimately, Willie's fame lives on. And Price once again is there to reap the benefits he sowed long ago. Consider it's 1978. "Saturday Night Fever" is atop the pop charts as rock seethes with angry young punks doing it their way.