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Waylon Jennings

The Lost Nashville Sessions – 2016 (Country Rewind)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Waylon Jennings

One of the original icons of the so-called Outlaw Country movement, Waylon Jennings left behind any number of contemporary classics and albums that still resonate in Americana realms. Yet, when he passed away prematurely in 2002, one couldn't help get the impression there was more material yet to be discovered. These sessions, rescued from some dusty vaults, add to that legacy, if only for the historical importance gained through hearing them in retrospect. Originally recorded for a series of radio promos in 1970, they show Jennings at the height of his prowess, and although they emerge as a somewhat slick showcase of his abilities as a credible cover artist, his vocals are as rich and resonant as ever.

The liner notes accompanying the package suggest that these were rushed, one-off recordings, and while a bit of post production doctoring is to be expected, the music sounds as polished and professional as any effort undertaken throughout Jennings's lengthy career. All of these songs are standards of sorts, but the variety is impressive, running the gamut from well known chestnuts like "MacArthur Park" and "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" to sturdy fare like "Singer of Sad Songs,""Mental Revenge" and "Only Daddy That Will Walk the Line." Jennings sounds tough and tenacious throughout, particularly on tracks like "Just To Satisfy You" and "Love of the Common People" where that gruff lower register makes its most emphatic impression. It's little wonder that Jennings imparted such a formidable presence; he not only made it clear he didn't take any bull from anyone, but that he was also capable of holding his own regardless of the musical scenario. The fiery determination evidenced here contributes to that perception and persona, and makes "The Lost Nashville Sessions" a valuable addition to his rugged canon.

As his widow Jessi Colter suggests in the liner notes, Jennings was a remarkable interpreter of contemporary classics, an attribute that's often overlooked in favor of his rough and tumble persona. Listening here in retrospect, that ability is reinforced repeatedly, a takeaway which, on its own, makes "The Lost Nashville Sessions" an essential archival find.