A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.
A MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD A+++ SIDE ONE, the best we heard in the whole shootout! Side two earned an A++, making this the best copy to ever hit the site! We’ve heard great copies of this one in the past, but after throwing one on just for fun last year and hearing pretty mediocre sound, we decided that we’d collect a bunch of them to find out just how good the best pressings could sound — and how mind-numbingly average the typical copy can be. It’s not easy to find a copy that gets EVERYTHING right, but this side one seems to do it all.
This is one of the better Willie Nelson records, not quite in the same league as Stardust (musically or sonically, I’m afraid), but certainly one of his strongest efforts from the period. Some songs are recorded better than others (when ain’t that the case?) but just about everything sounds great and the best stuff is out of this world.
What do White Hot Stampers give you on a record like this? More space around all the instruments, more strength to the bottom end, wonderful immediacy and breath to the vocals (though at times Willie’s vocals are a bit low in the mix — an odd choice), weight to the piano, superb clarity, and lovely analog warmth. Not only that, but this side one was more dynamic than any copy we threw it up against.
Side two is nearly as impressive at A++. It shares most of the same qualities that made side one so good, but there’s a touch of grit and edge to Willie’s voice that we kept hearing on copy after copy. We like to listen to music very loud, but once we came down to “normal” listening levels the voice smoothed out a bit.
Me and Bobby McGee
Help Me Make It Through the Night
The Pilgrim Chapter 33
For the Good Times
You Show Me Yours (and I’ll Show You Mine)
Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)
Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down
Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends
A return to country-rock after the smash success of Stardust the year before, this is one of Willie Nelson’s best albums. Admittedly, it doesn’t withstand comparisons to Shotgun Willie or any of his earlier triumphs, but it holds up as one of his most enjoyable second-stringers. “Me and Bobby McGee” is given an exciting, thunderous performance and “Why Me” is terrific, but perhaps more memorable are Nelson’s renditions of lesser-known Kristofferson treasures, such as the loping “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33” and the beautiful “Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends.” As he demonstrated from the beginning, Nelson had one of the best interpretive gifts of any singer, and this album only strengthened that reputation.