Sometime in the middle of the 1970s, there were a couple of artists who didn't want to toe the Nashville line. They broke the rules, they rebelled against the accepted norm, and they just plain wanted to do things their way. Primary amongst them was, of course, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, who more or less lead the way. There were lesser known independents, of course, those who never even tried to kowtow to the Mainstream Golden Age of Nashville - but all together they came to be known as the Outlaws, and here's a great collection of some of the best.
I am curious, though, how some of the songs on here were chosen. I like the fact that it cuts from the early days of the Outlaws, with Waylon's "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" and Willie's "Whiskey River." But I know for a fact that there wasn't a country station around in the 70's (or 80's, even) that would play Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Gimme Three Steps" or the Georgia Satellites "Keep Your Hands To Yourself," which, as I recall, got regular play on MTV, something no actual country song ever did. I'm also a little leery of calling Molly Hatchet and the Allman Brothers "country," although they ARE certainly Southern-Fried Rock. The Marshall Tucker Band is also a little iffy. To put these songs and artists on this disc meant some of the real outlaws got missed, like Townes Van Zandt and even Gram Parsons (who was also borderline rock by classification, but the music was pure country). And while independent newbie Shooter Jennings belongs here as surely as his daddy does, I'm going to stick my head in the noose and claim that while Gretchen Wilson is a fine little singer, the song chosen for this disc, "Here For The Party," is a repetitive and annoying mess and does NOT belong on this fine collection, and is the reason I docked it a half-star. Because, honestly, country or not, I really like all the rest of these songs a LOT.
Another choice I'm somewhat curious about is the addition of Johnny Cash. Now of course Cash is as country as cornpone, but he was never, to my knowledge, ranked as one of the "outlaws," even as a member of the Highwaymen. Of course, "Cocaine Blues" is a pretty awesome tune, and it's ABOUT an outlaw, anyway, although a significantly more dangerous sort of outlaw... But there are plenty of songs that DO belong here, like Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road," the great Billy Joe Shaver singing one of his great tunes, "I've Been To Georgia On A Fast Train," David Allan Coe's magnificent take on the Steve Goodman classic, "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," Waylon & Willie together on "Good Hearted Woman," Tanya Tucker singing "Texas (When I Die)," Travis Tritt's "Modern Day Bonnie & Clyde," and, of course, Johnny Paycheck singing what might be one of the great anthems of outlaw country, "Take This Job And Shove It" (written by fellow outlaw David Allan Coe). But missing? Tompall Glaser's brilliant "Put Another Log on the Fire." Oh, the humanity. And there is nothing here by Kris Kristofferson, which puts the kibosh on Cash's presence counting from his time in the Highwaymen. Overall, this is a collection that works pretty well, no matter what genre you want to call it.
Release Date: April 1, 2008 - Label: Legacy Recordings
- Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way - Waylon Jennings
- The South's Gonna Do It Again - Charlie Daniels Band
- Ramblin' Man - The Allman Brothers Band
- Whiskey River - Willie Nelson
- All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight - Hank Williams Jr.
- Why You've Been Gone So Long - Jessi Colter
- Can't You See - The Marshall Tucker Band
- 4th Of July - Shooter Jennings
- You Never Even Called Me By My Name - David Allan Coe
- I Been To Georgia On A Fast Train - Billy Joe Shaver
- Here For The Party - Gretchen Wilson
- Copperhead Road - Steve Earle
- Gimme Three Steps - Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Good Hearted Woman - Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson
- Take This Job And Shove It - Johnny Paycheck
- Texas (When I Die) - Tanya Tucker
- Modern Day Bonnie And Clyde - Travis Tritt
- Keep Your Hands To Yourself - Georgia Satellites
- Flirtin' With Disaster - Molly Hatchet
- Cocaine Blues - Johnny Cash