Red Headed Stranger
Extra Tracks, Reissued, Remastered
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Red Headed Stranger
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THE outlaw country album, Red Headed Stranger's bare-bones sound was the perfect antidote to the glitzy Nashville Sound dominating the airwaves in the mid-'70s, and lent an understated majesty to this tale of a wandering preacher in the Old West. This deluxe version includes four bonus tracks-three unreleased!-plus the classic Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain .
Though this 1975 album cost Willie only $20,000 to record, it handed him the success he'd craved after years as a hit songwriter and modestly successful singer. By blending originals and vintage material, he created a timeless Western saga, one that originally left Columbia Records, who'd guaranteed him artistic control, skeptical. The label's doubts, amplified by the fact that Nelson had recorded the album in Texas with only his seven-piece touring band, evaporated after the album and two singles, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" and "Remember Me," became huge hits and launched Willie into the stratosphere. This enhanced version preserves the original sequence, adding four bonus tracks. One, a brief snippet of Bach's "Minuet in G" from the 1986 Red Headed Stranger film, is inconsequential. Three more, from the 1975 sessions, are enjoyable covers of Hank Williams's "I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love with You," Bob Wills's "A Maiden's Prayer," and Pee Wee King's "Bonaparte's Retreat," footnotes to the original but welcome nonetheless. --Rich Kienzle
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Truly a work of art. A labor of love. Red Headed Stranger is one of those LPs that haunts you as you listen to the two very different stories on sides 1 and 2. It’s simplicity in instrumentation & vocals, stark & often emotional, can array you to places unseen.
If you haven’t heard it. Really sat down & listened to it closely with all your heart and soul, shame on you. For your life is incomplete.
Oddly enough, it is an album that hashes and rehashes the same simple melody repeatedly, employs the same basic instrumentation throughout, and tells and retells the same story over and over--but never grows old or wears thin. There are 3 versions of "Time Of The Preacher Here," but it works, just as it worked when Nelson did "Whiskey River" 3 times at the 1980 show.
"Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" is a classic performance and, I think, the first time Nelson's fantastic nylon-sting picking was heard on a charting single. He is the most underrated guitar players of the last 45 years, bar none. I've often thought I'd pay a premium for an insturmental Nelson album, nothing but guitar solos.
"Can I Sleep In Your Arms Tonight" is even better. There is a purity here, a clarity of vision and a confidence Nelson has in his own artistic voice, that was simply unheard of in country music in the mid-70s.
To me, RED HEADED STRANGER is second only to STARDUST in the Willie Nelson catalog.