Willie Nelson - Wille And The Wheel

The idea for this album came from Willie Nelson's former label boss and good friend Jerry Wexler in the 1960s.  This album is a collection of classic Western Swing performed by Willie Nelson and Asleep at The Wheel.

A few years ago, AATW had artists like Wade Hayes and Tracy Byrd make cameos on their live album. This album blows that one out of the water because Nelson is singing on 11 of the 12 tracks (“South” is an instrumental), and because of the legend’s background in Western Swing. The combination of Nelson’s vocals and AATW’s backing – chock full of fiddles -- is superb. The listener senses that he’s back in the 1940’s on most of the songs, including “Hesitation Blues”, “Oh! You Pretty Woman” and “Sweet Jennie Lee”. But there’s also an element of blues and jazz on this Western Swing album – things that the versatile Nelson is certainly comfortable with – on tunes like “Fan It” and “I’m Sittin On Top Of The World”.

There’s an element of humor on “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of This Jelly Roll” and “Bring It On Down To My House.” “Right Or Wrong” has been performed by several artists over the years – perhaps most famously by George Strait – but the combination of Willie Nelson and Asleep At The Wheel nail it, with superb vocals and excellent instrumental backing. Vince Gill and Paul Shaffer (of the David Letterman Show) join the Western Swing party on the instrumental song, “South”, playing electric guitar and piano, respectively. With his unique voice suited for jazzy offerings, Willie Nelson has long excelled in these types of situations. After last year's successful collaboration with Wynton Marsalis and now with Asleep At The Wheel, Willie Nelson has participated in two of the last two years' best albums.

There should be no doubt about Jerry Wexler's idea to marry Willie Nelson and Western Swing. It's a match made in honky tonk heaven.