The Complete Atlantic Sessions
Part Three: Live at the Texas Opry House
The Music Box's #3 boxed set of 2006
First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2006, Volume 13, #7
Written by John Metzger
Live at the Texas Opry House
For the better part of the past 30-odd years, Willie Nelson has taken the same, basic approach to his concerts, and imbued with a rock ’n‘ roll attitude, they typically have served as rousing showcases for his full body of work. By constructing medleys from his songs, he has been able to develop a tighter narrative framework for his performances, while also squeezing even more of his best-loved material into each set. The roots for his traveling sideshow initially were planted in the early ’70s, and the scrapped album Live at the Texas Opry House offers an early glimpse at where it all began. Recorded over the course of two nights in 1974, just a few months after Phases and Stages was released, the collection begins with a rousing rendition of Whiskey River that exudes a free-spirited playful air. Likewise, his autobiographical road tale Me & Paul assumes an easy-going country lilt.
What makes Live at the Texas Opry House truly shine, however, is how well the instrumentalists worked together to bring the material to life. Fiddler Johnny Gimble, for example, singlehandedly orchestrated Funny How Time Slips Away; pianist Bobbie Nelson shaded Walkin’ with the redemptive strains of Amazing Grace; and, driven by Mickey Raphael’s chugging harmonica, Nelson’s frenzied guitar, and a stampeding rhythm section, Bloody Mary Morning was tackled at breakneck speed and fused to Bob Wills’ Take Me Back to Tulsa. It’s only fitting that the final track on the endeavor is a previously unreleased studio jam titled Willie’s After Hours during which the band spends nearly 14 minutes fully exploring a smoky, blues-baked groove. Once liberated from Nashville, Nelson’s adventurous ambitions began to bubble to the surface of his work, and taken in full, The Complete Atlantic Sessions captures a rising star whose fame and fortune lurked just around the corner.
This is the second installment of a three-part series,
which will examine The Complete Atlantic Sessions album by album.
The entire set is rated: ˝
The Complete Atlantic Sessions is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box