Customer Reviews


162 Reviews
5 star:
 (122)
4 star:
 (31)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you only have one compilation of Willie...
this is the one to have. Let's face it, all compilations have their weaknesses, but the 2 disc "The Essential Willie Nelson" (2003) is the first to cover all the labels Willie has recorded for and all the big hits in one set! Disc one kicks off with 7 early 60s recordings including "Night life", "Hello Walls", and "Crazy" (which...
Published on August 20, 2003 by B-MAN

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Selection of Songs
I think the selection of songs on this two disc set is fine, but I only like Willie Nelson slow songs, so I may not be the best judge. That being said, it contains the songs I like. However, I was a bit disappointed in the rather tinny sound of the cd, which I think goes beyond what might be expected due to the age of the recordings, so am only giving it 3 stars.
Published 10 months ago by VLG


‹ Previous | 1 217 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you only have one compilation of Willie..., August 20, 2003
By 
B-MAN "B" (Earth, occasionally. Until I get bored.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
this is the one to have. Let's face it, all compilations have their weaknesses, but the 2 disc "The Essential Willie Nelson" (2003) is the first to cover all the labels Willie has recorded for and all the big hits in one set! Disc one kicks off with 7 early 60s recordings including "Night life", "Hello Walls", and "Crazy" (which Willie wrote & Patsy Cline made famous). Track 8, "Me and Paul" starts Willie's 70s recordings including "Blue eyes crying in the rain" and of course his classic duets with Waylon: "Good Hearted Woman" & "Mama's don't let your babies...". 3 songs are included from the 1978 album "Stardust": "Blue Skies", "Georgia on my mind", & "All of Me" and disc one closes with two live tracks: "Whiskey River" & "Stay a little longer" both from the '78 album "Willie & Family Live".
Disc 2 continues with late 70s and early 80s hits like "My Heroes have always been Cowboys", "Always on my mind", and of course "On the road again". More classic duets follow with "Pancho & Lefty" (a personal favorite) with Merle Haggard, "To all the girls..." with Julio Iglesias, and "Seven Spanish Angels" with Ray Charles. The 1984 gem "Highwayman" featuring Kristofferson, Waylon, and Cash is also here. The second disc is wrapped up with more duets: "Slow Dancing" with U2 (which surprisingly works because Bono is either MIA or extremely toned down), "Mendocino County Line" with Lee Ann Womack, and "One Time too Many" with Aerosmith. One review stated that these last three songs left a "sour taste" considering that they are part of an "essential" collection. I have to agree, but only greatly in terms of the Aerosmith song. It starts off well enough with acoustic guitar and Willie and Steven Tyler trading verses, but when the rest of Aerosmith kicks in and Tyler does his thing, Willie is drowned out and that's not cool on a Willie Nelson compilation. If one wants to hear Aerosmith, there are many ways to do so. So with the minor exception of the final track of the set, this compilation is indispensable. A great way to get Willie's biggest hits on one reasonably priced set!
*It should be noted that 14 of the 20 tracks from the 1981 compilation "Greatest Hits & some that will be" are included here not to mention 22 of the 30 tracks on 1999's "The Very Best of Willie" as well. So if you have either of these, 2003's "Essential" may not be essential. However, if you don't have any Willie compilations yet, this is the one to go with.
Also recommended:
RCA Legends: Waylon Jennings (2 disc, 40 track excellent compilation)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forty years of great music, October 15, 2003
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
Willie Nelson did not make any real impact as a singer until the mid seventies (and it was the eighties before Britain took him seriously) but this compilation attempts to cover the whole of his career to date. Inevitably, this means that a lot of great songs are omitted but if this is your first Willie Nelson album and you want to explore further, you will find plenty to choose from.

The set opens with Willie's versions of the four songs that established Willie as a songwriter in the sixties, these being Night life, Hello walls, Crazy and Funny how time slips away. Six further tracks cover the sixties and early seventies, a period during which Willie recorded plenty of interesting music but with only limited success.
In 1975, Willie recorded a cover of Blue eyes crying in the rain, an old Roy Acuff song, which became a major country and pop hit in America. Other hits followed including a lot of duets -so many that you could fill a boxed set with them. Just a few are included here, among them being Good hearted woman, Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys (both with Waylon Jennings), Faded love (with Ray Price - and Crystal Gayle singing backup harmony), To all the girls I've loved before (with Julio Iglesias) and Seven Spanish angels (with Ray Charles). Willie's classic solo country hits (some covers, some originals) are represented by If you've got the money I've got the time, Uncloudy day, Help me make it through the night, My heroes have always been cowboys, On the road again, Always on my mind, City of New Orleans and a few others.
Another aspect of Willie's career was the series of albums he recorded featuring songs from the Great American Songbook. The first and most famous of these albums was Stardust. It is the only songbook album from which tracks are taken and is represented here by Blue skies, Georgia on my mind and All of me. A very different double CD of Willie's music titled All the songs I've loved before was released in Britain and Australia, which was dominated by this aspect of Willie's music and which I've already reviewed.
If you only want one collection of music by Willie Nelson, this is a good one to choose.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Treasure, July 11, 2003
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
While Willie's 3 disc box-set Revolutions of Time is ultimately a more thorough and "essential" collection, this set definitely hits all of the high (and one or two low) points in Willie's career. Just about every mainstream hit from the late 70s and early 80s is here. While some of this might sound dated and overproduced ("Always On My Mind" would be perfect if it weren't for those backup singers), these songs are as much a part of pop music as any rock and roll collection. In my opinion, Willie is only nominally a country artist anymore, and much more a pop singer, so don't use your dislike of country music as an excuse to ignore Willie.
This set, unlike the 3 CD box-set, includes songs from various points in his career- his rendition of "Crazy" and "Hello Walls" are here. While they are more in the mold of traditional late 60s Nashville country (even more overproduced than the early 80s stuff), it's wonderful to hear Willie sing some of his songs that others turned into massive hits. A few of his duets are here, including two with Waylon, the wonderful and haunting "Pancho and Lefty" with Merle, the Highwayman title song, "Faded Love" with Ray Price, and my favorite, "Seven Spanish Angels" with Ray Charles. Again, the box-set includes an entire disc of duets, so this offers only a sample. What a fine sample it is, though.
Willie's late 70s to mid 80s material speaks for itself- a few songs from "Stardust" and his live album, "On the Road Again" (one of my all time favorite songs from any artist), "City of New Orleans"- all essential classics. The collections begins to trail off with his 90s and early 2000 material, and this stuff is hardly Willie's finest- the U2 song is ponderous and pretentious, and some of the duets from this period are just silly- Aerosmith? Willie's rendition of Paul Simon's "Graceland" is the best from this era, and holds up well against the fine original.
I tend to like singers with less traditional voices- Bruce, Dylan, Willie, Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Dale Gilmore. The most frequent complaint you'll hear about these people is that their voices are unpleasant. I just find that to be outright wrong- Willie's reedy, sweet voice is a thing of beauty, and the uniqueness that he brings to both his own songs and his covers is part of his appeal. He's a timeless artist who is both a fine songwriter and an even better interpreter of songs both standards and obscurities. He joins the ranks of a handful of true American musical greats- Louis Armstrong, Elvis, Frank, Dylan, Johnny Cash and Bruce Springsteen. I'm an enormous fan of The Boss, and placing Willie alongside him is my highest form of compliment.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Willie, April 28, 2003
By 
Robert L. Henry Jr. (Paden City, WV United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
A Quality collection from a true legend. This collection covers all the bases and record labels that this legend has recorded for. This collection is a tad bit skimpy on the Liberty and RCA material, but it would take a 3 or 4 cd set to include all the good material. It would have been nice to include "Yesterday's Wine or "Mr. Record Man" or from the Columbia years, Willie's version of "Let it Be Me". No collection is perfect and this is the best Willie collection out there. This collection is filled with Number 1 hits and covers 5 decades, WOW This collection deserves 10 stars, it is that good!!! All the classics and quality duet material is included in this collection
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reviewing My Willie Nelson CDs, December 1, 2004
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
If you are reading this you probably already know that Willie is one of the most creative, powerful, and diverse performers of all time. In this review, I'm not going to rate the albums, just offer some insights into the CD's and DVD's that I have purchased - and I'm glad I've purchased them all.

"The Essential Willie Nelson" is essential. Be that as it may, Willie's individual CD's are so strong and the songs are so interrelated, often in a story or a tight thematic format, that they almost make the "essential" Willie Nelson unessential - but it is such a great collection of songs, that you can't get as easily any other way. Definitely worth the buy.

"The Red Headed Stranger" is one of the greatest albums of all time. It is pure genius. If you get the 70th birthday edition, you get a remastered track and extra songs. There are no less than six "A" level songs on this CD, nothing short of amazing. Plus, you get fourteen minutes of great story telling. As a story teller, Willie is only rivaled by Native American artist Robert Mirabal ("Indians Indians", "Taos Tales", "Music From A Painted Cave", "Mirabal", etc.).

"Willie and Family Live", done around 1975, is a great live album. It has lots of energy. A highlight for me was Willie Nelson, Emmy Lou Harris, and Johnny Paycheck singing "Amazing Grace" together. It also contains the fourteen minute story of the Red Headed Stranger, including "Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain". This live performance of Willie's first #1 hit is the best I have heard on any album. There is a little extra "oomph" on every song in the CD. Again, make sure you get the 70th birthday edition, it has extra goodies.

If you like the early super hits that Willie wrote for everyone else, like "Crazy", "Night Life", and "Funny How Time Slips Away", then you need to also get the "Milk Cow Blues" CD. Willie performs these and more Blues standards, usually in a duet format, with outstanding artists such as B.B. King - Rolling Stone Magazine's choice as the 3rd greatest guitarist of all time. Hearing BB and Willie strum and sing together on "Night Life" and "The Thrill is Gone" is indeed a thrill. Willie performs this album with a first class Blues band and it is a first class Blues album.

Willie's latest album, "It Will Always Be" is once again a solid piece of work. Duets with Norah Jones and Lucinda Williams help make it special, but the best part of this album is the haunting duet of Willie and Paula Nelson on the song "It Will Always Be". This is a song that hits you in the gut, and it rivals Bruce Springstein's "Streets of Philadelphia" in terms of its raw emotion. A number of people, including me, cried the first time they heard it: "I'm tied of this and I'm running out of time; feels like dyin', feels like cryin'; and I'm running out of time." Say it ain't so, Willie!! A second good song was written by another member of the Nelson clan. The title song is very beautiful. The tribute to the land Willie loves, "Texas", is too short but very meaningful. If this was Willie's last CD, he went out as "The Midnight Rider", a great song for the leader of the outlaw movement: "They ain't gonna catch me, I ain't go let `em catch the Midnight Rider."

"Spirit" and "Teatro" are brother/sister CDs. Both have a strong thematic core, although they are not stories. "Spirit" is one of those rare CD's when every note seems important. For most, you'll listen to it less than the other CD's, but love it equally as much. For a few, you'll play it by the hours. It is essentially a story of coping with lost love, redefining your relationship with yourself and with God, and finding love again. The music and the whole CD are moderately paced, with a strong, steady spiritual tone to it. It has a light Latin sound, essential to Willie's roots. Pictures of Willie on this album look like he came from an ancient Holy Land.

"Teatro" is the mirror of "Spirit". Again, it is a story of coping with lost love, but the story goes south, ending in murder and psychological ruin. Teatro means "theater" in Spanish and this is good to keep in mind in listening to the CD. It is just a play folks! The CD is very hard-hitting, because Willie's music is very hard-hitting and very close to the heart. The music tends to have a lively beat, with strong Latin overtones. Its haunting nature is reinforced by Emmy Lou Harris, who accompanies Willie on most of the songs. The back picture on the back of the CD case is one of the best pictures of Willie ever taken.

The "My Life" DVD is well worth the buy. The story ends before the 90's, but there is a brief update. I knew about Willie and Farm Aid, but I didn't know about the scope of his philanthropy and the diversity of populations targeted in his giving until this DVD. I was also amazed to learn that he paid his $16 million IRS debt off in one year, selling $17 million worth of songs as info-mercials to radio stations. That's a lot of love, translated into a lot of power.

A number of people criticize the "Live In Amsterdam" DVD and some of the criticisms are merited. But hey, the DVD has a large collection of great songs. Some criticisms are not fair. You perform differently and 70 than you do at 40, it is a biological rule. Willie's shows have always moved quickly from one song to the other, so the pace of the concert is nothing new. The love from the audience is shown at the end when Willie is signing autograph after autograph. The bottom line is this, if you like Willie, if you would like to watch him live occasionally instead of just hearing him through the box, and if you want those images of him at 70, then you should buy this DVD. You'll find it worthwhile.

In the final analysis, the raw power of Willie's work, formed by singing in the cotton fields with Black and Mexican laborers, and his keen insight into what people really want in music, formed not through record company analysis but through live performances on the ground, make Willie Nelson one of the most creative, powerful, and loved performers of all time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have., July 19, 2005
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
If you like Willie, or America, or have any nostalgia for the way things used to be, buy this CD. I sometimes forget that its 2005, and what a mess we are in when I am rolling along with "Whiskey River" or "Bloody Mary Mornining."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW Ten star winner, May 30, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
WOW.... This two disc set is awseome. Last week I was listening to NPR's Fresh Air and heard Willie Nelson talking about a song that was obscure and low and behold its on this. Anyway this is a CD that I have had playing nearly nonstop since I bought it. Crisp clear recordings that seem ageless. And such a nice selection of songs from decades of performing. If you own just one of Willie Nelsons CD's this should be the one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars +1/2 -- Fine roadmap to Nelson's career, April 1, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
Waylon Jennings may be recognized for having first bucked the Nashville system, but Willie Nelson proved himself the true iconoclast. Both of these venerable outlaws shook off the chains of the country music industry to create brilliant musical legacies, but as this 41-track collection so aptly shows, Nelson's run was even more idiosyncratic than his compadre's. Nelson's music and lifestyle merged into a single entity, with his touring providing the grist of a troubadour's life.
In celebration of Nelson's 70th birthday, Columbia has gathered two full CDs from over forty years and nine different labels, and spiced it with a pair of bonus tracks -- a rare B-side recorded with Irish rock band, U2, and a previously unreleased duet with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. The set opens with Nelson's first single, on the Bellaire label, "Night Life," and closes with his Grammy winning duet with Lee Ann Womack, "Mendocino County Line." In between are samplings from his liaisons with RCA, Atlantic, Island, Lost Highway, and over two dozen tracks from his years at Columbia, including a staggering seventeen #1 singles.
In addition to his solo work, Nelson's regular collaborators, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson are all represented, as are one-time partners like Leon Russell, Ray Charles and Julio Iglesias. Throughout this collection one can hear Nelson's distinctive vocal phrasing (e.g, Nelson's recording of "Georgia on My Mind" is equally as memorable as Ray Charles' iconic rendition) and unique acoustic guitar, in service of his legendary compositions.
As Nelson broke free of the Nashville orthodoxy, his work focussed more on albums than singles, and his post-RCA albums (e.g., "Phases & Stages," "Red Headed Stranger," etc.), though well represented here, are necessarily shortchanged by the anthology form. Still, this is a nicely picked collection whose chronological sequencing plays surprisingly well, given the range of sources from which the tracks were pulled. As an overview, this provides the listener an invitation to explore Nelson's album catalog more deeply, aided by reissues forthcoming in the Spring and Summer of 2003.
Some of the space that might have fleshed out Nelson's important albums is taken up with seemingly inconsequential tracks (e.g., neither bonus track, nor his duet with Lee Ann Womack, could really be labeled "essential"). Nelson's very first single, ("Lumberjack" b/w "No Place for Me?" recorded as an independent release) would have made a more spectacular bonus. Nits aside, however, this is a very good introduction to one of country music's most talented and original artists.
4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I can't stop playing these 2 CD's, July 4, 2005
By 
Terry E. Decker (Louisville, Kentucky United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
If you even remotely like any of the songs of Willie Nelson, then you will love this compiliation. After all, what's not to like: the rock driven Lyrics of the live version of Whiskey River, or One Time Too Many, (with Steven Tyler & Aerosmith). Or the haunting ballads like Georgia on my mind, Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground, Help me make it through the night or To All The Girls I've Loved Before (with Julio Iglesias) among so many others.

Then, there are the strange songs like Pancho and Lefty (with Merle Haggard), and City of New Orleans, that takes you on that train trip we've all wanted to take, or The Highwayman (with the real Highwaymen; Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson), which goes just a little past the edge of reality.

I don't want to review every song, even though it would be easy to do; but too long, and too boring. That's why I've saved my favorite song for last. Even through I have played this CD over and over since I finally got it, there is one song that always affects me deeply. I can not listen to the song Seven Spanish Angels, with a dry eye. There is something about this song that pulls so strong at my heart, that a tear just slips out.

Hey, A great compiliation, a great series of productions, an all star bunch of friends, and Seven Spanish Angels. What's not to like!

Terry Decker

Formerly WVEZ Radio- Louisville, Ky.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you only buy one best of Willie Nelson CD..., September 22, 2005
By 
This review is from: The Essential Willie Nelson (Audio CD)
well there seem to be an awful lot of them released within the last few years. I like this compilation because it has a good mix of Willie's best starting in the early days with favorites like "Crazy" through the more pop-oriented "To All the Girls I Loved Before". I'd recommend this set for anyone who wants to feel the depth of influence that Willie has made on music on a whole.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 217 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Essential Willie Nelson
The Essential Willie Nelson by Willie Nelson (Audio CD - 2003)
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.