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Waylon Jennings & the Waymore Blues Band

Never Say Die Live – 2000 (Lucky Dog/Sony Music)

Reviewed by Dan Williams

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CDs by Waylon Jennings & the Waymore Blues Band

Waylon Jennings' live album is a major letdown, and it's hard to believe it was recorded at the fabled Ryman, and not the House of Blues or some such like hotspot. It's too slick and showbiz pro by half; making Willie Nelson's similarly polished "Milk Cow Blues" sound like Robert Johnson by comparison.

Horns: Many. Peppy and punchy, and they add a lot of clutter to the arrangements. Piercing background vocals that sound like they escaped from the second side of "Dark Side Of The Moon." Too much widdly-woo guitar. And, ye gods, interminable versions of Holiday Inn staples like "Drift Away" and Marshall Tucker's "Can't You See." Was Paul Shaffer unavailable?

Some pretty great songs get buried beneath the sort of "This Is Cinerama" tomfoolery that characterizes far too much of modern Nashville. There are saving graces: Jennings is in fine voice throughout - particularly on old chestnuts like "Amanda" and "Good Hearted Woman." There is decent duet frippery with John Anderson and Travis Tritt (among others), and wife Jessi Colter holds up her vocal and piano duties nicely.

1976's "Waylon Live" (Buddha) is a modern classic, RUN don't walk if you're missing that one. "Never," sad to say, is all hat and no cattle - a dissapointing misfire for all but the completist collector.