10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Decent sampler but poor sound,
By A Customer
This review is from: RCA Country Legends: Waylon Jennings (Audio CD)
Anyone who loves real country, country that stays true to its roots and traditions even as it stakes new ground, should have some Waylon Jennings in their collection. Jennings is best-known for his 70's work, when he helped pioneer the "outlaw" movement with such contemporaries as Willie Nelson (with whom he recorded several classic hits) and recorded a great run of solid albums and timeless singles like "Amanda." While his earlier, late 60's recordings were uneven and his style clashed with that of his producer, the great Chet Atkins, he still managed some great singles. During the 80's, his final years with RCA, the light, pop-oriented "urban cowboy" movement undermined his work, and it was definitely the lowest point of his tenure at RCA, but he did manage a handful of hit singles, a few of which were great.
With such a long, amazing career, an extensive Waylon Jennings anthology is very much welcome, and we got one in 1993. "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line," produced by country fanatic Jimmy Guterman (who also produced a great Loretta Lynn box set and the definitive Merle Haggard collection of Capitol recordings), was exemplary. It picked his best work, not just his most popular, and some solid liner notes. It was missing some key singles, but overall it was still a great collection.
That set has since fallen out-of-print and this new one, "RCA Country Legends," is essentially the replacement. Just like "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line," this two CD set has 40 songs, but overall, it's much worse. It does include a few great songs that was missing on the other set, like "Cedartown, Georgia" and "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" (a Willie Nelson duet found on many Willie Nelson CD's), but it loses a lot of great ones, too. We also get the rare studio version of "Bob Wills Is Still The King," but it's not as good as the hit, live version. The liner notes are okay, not as good as Guterman's, which were more extensive, but the WORST thing about this set is the sound. The sound on "RCA Country Legends" is terrible, with every ounce of life COMPRESSED out of the songs. This is a sad, sad trend in music these days, country or otherwise, where everything is remastered at an extremely loud volume, but in order to accomodate the louder volume, they have to compress/squeeze the music, destroying the dynamics and leaving everything sounding squashed. Even the old, subpar CD's from the 80's sound better, much more open and lifelike instead of closed and smooshed. Even worse, some louder passages on "RCA Country Legends" have really bad distortion. If you listen to other CD's, those passages have a tiny bit of distortion, probably because they overloaded the tape during recording, but with the extra compression on "RCA Country Legends," it's even worse and really harsh.
I haven't heard any of the other Waylon Jennings remasters, but I hope they aren't the same. If you have the old CD's, stick with them. If you're new and looking for a good anthology, pick up either the old single CD "Greatest Hits" (originally released in 1979 as an Lp, it's a little short, but has his biggest hits) or try to find the two CD "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line" box set, which usually goes for about $15-20 used.