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Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price

Last of the Breed Volume I

Review by Gary Hill

Whether you like country music or not, you have to have a deep respect for this double disc set. In an era of over-produced pop music that passes itself off as various genres – country in this instance - three greats of the early era of the musical style have gotten together to record an album deeply rooted in the old traditional flavor of country music. As one might guess, what they have produced is an album that is a quality product all the way. I have to admit that a lot of it is too “down home” for my tastes, but I still admire what they've done and appreciate the talent that went into it. For fans of this style of music, this one is certainly a “must have” collection. For the rest of us looking for a peek into the roots of country music and Americana, you just can't do a lot better than this. These guys really are the last of the breed, but let's hope they keep doing what they do so well for a long, long time.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
My Life's Been a Pleasure
This is a down home, bouncing country tune that's fun and has a very old sound.
My Mary
More of a bluesy ballad, this one is slower and very tasty. I like this one a lot.
Back To Earth
Even more sedate and bluesy, Nelson carries much of the vocal work here. This is another that I really enjoy.
Heartaches by the Number
A faster paced hoe-down this one is deep in the country modes and bouncy and fun.

Mom and Dad's Waltz
This mid-tempo is another on which Nelson features prominently. It's old school and nice.
Some Other World
Bright and bouncy, this is a good track.
Why Me Lord
As one might expect, this has an old country gospel approach.
Lost Highway
Here's another bouncy and playful cut. It's slow, but still has some oomph to it. It's another that is deeply rooted in that old gospel motif.
I Love You A Thousand Ways
This has a rather jazzy approach with a swinging slow rhythm.
Please Don't Leave Me Anymore Darlin'
Faster paced, this one is a fun cut.
I Gotta Have My Baby Back
Slow and evocative, this is pretty and one of the highlights of the set. There are a lot of jazz leanings on this one, too. I suppose it's worth mentioning that I can't look at that song title without thinking of a Chili's commercial.
Disc 2
Goin' Away Party
With a vintage sound, this is slow and has a great tempo. It's another strong one.
If I Ever Get Lucky
This has a bit more of a 1970's pop country texture. Another winner, I like this one quite a bit.
Sweet Memories
One of the slowest tracks on the entire set, this is a pretty ballad packed with emotion.
Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
And now we're off to the hoe-down. This is fun and a nice change up.
I Love You Because
Back to the balladic territory, this is another slow but tasty piece of music.
Sweet Jesus
This is another country gospel track. It's not one of my favorites here.
Still Water Runs the Deepest
Here we get more bouncy music. This is another that's a highlight of the set and features Nelson quite prominently.
I Love You So Much It Hurts
A slow and contemplative ballad, this is definitely one of the more effective pieces on show here.
That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine
Now it's back into the bouncy and fun modes.
I'll Keep on Loving You
This is another that's in the faster paced, more playful territory. It's also another of the stronger pieces here.
Night Watch
They close things off with a slow ballad. This is another potent composition.
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