Willie Nelson's career as a legendary country musician, political activist and humanitarian has made him an American icon. In 2002, a variety of musical acts paid tribute to Willie during the Willie Nelson & Friends: Stars & Guitars concert, recorded in the capital of country music, Nashville, Tennessee.Last year, a star-studded lineup came out to New York City to celebrate Willie's 70th birthday during the Willie Nelson & Friends: Live and Kickin' concert.Now, for the third consecutive year in May 2004, the stars came out again.
Willie Nelson has been a prolific singer and recording artist since the 1970s, but the songwriter who penned hits for Ray Price, Patsy Cline, Billy Walker, and Johnny Cash, among others, hasn't issued an album of predominantly original material since 1996. Band of Brothers ends the drought. Its 14 selections include nine new songs by Nelson (with producer Buddy Cannon) and a handful of fine covers. Opener "Bring It On" is a honky tonk waltz that offers wisdom by someone who has lived through plenty as he looks eternity squarely in the eye. He is in excellent voice as Mickey Raphael's harmonica moans to underscore his lyric. Nelson delivers his first guitar solo on Trigger (his nylon-stringed instrument). His playing, with its unique phrasing, has always been underrated and here it evokes the blues. His love songs have always been highlights in his catalog. "I Thought I Left You" is in 4/4, with a slow processional pace adorned with slippery steel and piano. The lost romance portrayed in the waltz "Send Me a Picture" is another clear standout; a sighing pedal steel and Raphael's mid-register wail echo every sung line.
Live and Kickin' is a 2003 live album by Willie Nelson, featuring music stars of diverse genres like Eric Clapton, Shania Twain, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Ray Charles, Steven Tyler, Wyclef Jean, ZZ Top, Paul Simon.
On Poncho & Lefty, their first album together, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson managed a rare feat: an album by two legends that lives up to, and at one point exceeds, expectations. In 1982, both artists were at the top of their game, Haggard just having released a great comeback album in Big City, and Nelson in the midst of a creative and commercial peak. The centerpiece of the album is the title track. Penned by Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt, the ballad of two renegades and the respect they earned from the law is the perfect vehicle for Haggard and Nelson, both of whom managed to achieve legendary status in spite of being outsiders to the Nashville establishment.( Martin Monkman - AllMusic Guide )
One of the first in a series of duet albums with country legends that Willie Nelson undertook during a period of seemingly uncontrolled output at Columbia, this remains one of the best. Ray Price may be regarded as something of a laid-back smoothie by listeners whose ears are stuffed with wax, but the reality is that Price is one of country's most expressive vocalists as well as a man interested in kicking country tempos as well as ballads.( Eugene Chadbourne - AllMusic Guide )