Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson…. – Wanted! The Outlaws

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  • An outstanding pressing of this superb compilation album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • When we first dropped the needle on a random copy of the album we were SHOCKED at how good it sounded – this recording is a real sleeper
  • The talents of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser come together under a unifying theme that “gave the album a cohesion and freshness it might have otherwise lacked”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… [the album] marked the industry’s recognition of the changing times, and as the center point of a campaign to publicize Nashville’s new ‘progressive’ breed, it worked like a charm. It quickly became the first country album to sell more than a million copies, and it boosted the careers of all involved.”

Our first Waylon Jennings album! Most of his albums from the ’60s are hard and honky in the extreme, but this one from the ’70s is a whole nother animal. It’s rich, with exceptionally natural reproduction of these varied artists’ voices. As we noted above, we were very, very impressed.

It has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate solid, palpable, real country outlaws singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 44 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What the best sides of Wanted! The Outlaws have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1976
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Wanted! The Outlaws

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
Honky Tonk Heroes
I’m Looking For Blue Eyes
You Mean to Say
Suspicious Minds

Side Two

Good Hearted Woman (Live)
Heaven Or Hell
Me And Paul
Yesterday’s Wine
T For Texas
Put Another Log On The Fire (Male Chauvinist National Anthem)

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

The term “outlaw” had been bandied about after Waylon Jennings’ 1972 hit “Ladies Love Outlaws,” but it didn’t permanently gel until the release of the album Wanted! The Outlaws in 1976. The songs in this packaged product weren’t new — the album contained previously released material by Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser, and Jennings’ wife Jessi Colter (who had hit the charts a year earlier with “I’m Not Lisa”). But it marked the industry’s recognition of the changing times, and as the center point of a campaign to publicize Nashville’s new “progressive” breed, it worked like a charm. It quickly became the first country album to sell more than a million copies, and it boosted the careers of all involved.

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