A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it’s one for the ages. It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble. The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. He’s clearly one of our favorite male vocalists, and this superb copy will show you why.
When this record was made the tapes were fresh. Now they’re 30+ years old. On audiophile equipment you will have no trouble appreciating the difference. Unless I miss my guess the difference in sound should be obvious and huge.
On this pressing Willie is no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. His voice is so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.
Phases And Stages (Theme)/Washing The Dishes
Phases And Stages(Theme)/Walkin’
Pretend I Never Happend
Sister’s Coming Home
Down At The Corner Beer Joint
(How Will I Know) I’m Falling In Love Again
Bloody Mary Morning
Phases And Stages (Theme)/No Love Around
I Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone
It’s Not Supposed To Be That Way
Heaven And Hell
Phases And Stages (Theme)/Pick Up The Tempo/Phases And Stages (Theme)
If Shotgun Willie played a bit like a concept album, Phases and Stages was a full-blown one, tracing the dissolution of a marriage and devoting one side to the wife’s perspective, the second to the husband’s. If anything, Willie overplays his hand a bit, insisting on grafting the “Phases and Stages” theme between crucial songs to the point of genuine irritation. But, pretend that never happened, erase it from your mind, and Phases and Stages is easily the equal of its remarkable predecessor, a wonderful set of music that resonates deeply, as deeply as the words. Make no mistake — the deceptively relaxed arrangements, including the occasional strings, not only highlight Nelson’s clever eclecticism, but they also heighten the emotional impact of the album.