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Willie Nelson

Willie & Family Live – 2003 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson was still doing it his way, as this re-release of his double live album proved. It contained all the pops, squeals, missed mikes and sour notes of any Willie Nelson concert. Yet it was as powerful a statement as any artist at the top of his game could make. Willie had recorded a live album in his earlier years with RCA. But this was truly Willie live - doing his medley of "Funny How Time Slips Away/Crazy/Night Life," jamming on "Bloody Mary Morning" and belting out a solo version, just Willie and his beat-up old classical guitar with the hole in it, on Leon Russell's "Song for You."

The bonus tracks are few, which would be disappointing if they weren't so good. It's the uptempo version of "Good Hearted Woman" and an absolutely killer version of Rodney Crowell's "Til I Gain Control Again."

This album represented Willie in 1978, and still paints an accurate picture of a Willie Nelson concert. A few pops, a few whistles, the Texas flag dropping when he opens with "Whiskey River" and the American flag dropping when he closes with "Whiskey River."

Whether it's 1978 or 2003, it's still Willie. And how many of us can say we're at least as good as we were back then? OK, the movie sucked. In fact, the only reason worth sitting through this flick about cheating, drinking and partying was the soundtrack.