20 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Long before Elton John brought his old friend Leon Russell back to public consciousness with their 2010 album The Union, Willie Nelson recorded this 1979 studio collection with the Oklahoma wild card. Granted, Russell wasn’t then far removed from his commercial peak, but Nelson was at the top of his popularity, and to release a double LP that shared the spotlight was an unusual and gutsy move. The decision was for these strong songwriters to cover their favorite songs, from Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light,” Elvis Presley’s "Heartbreak Hotel,” and Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Side of Life” to traditional material like “You Are My Sunshine” and “Danny Boy.” Being such superior stylists guaranteed intriguing results. The set starts in high gear but soon settles into a mellow, contemplative groove. “Summertime,” “That Lucky Old Sun,” and “Stormy Weather” find Nelson and Russell moving away from their traditional country and rock ’n’ roll toward the sounds explored on Nelson’s Stardust with a gritty touch all their own. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

Long before Elton John brought his old friend Leon Russell back to public consciousness with their 2010 album The Union, Willie Nelson recorded this 1979 studio collection with the Oklahoma wild card. Granted, Russell wasn’t then far removed from his commercial peak, but Nelson was at the top of his popularity, and to release a double LP that shared the spotlight was an unusual and gutsy move. The decision was for these strong songwriters to cover their favorite songs, from Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light,” Elvis Presley’s "Heartbreak Hotel,” and Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Side of Life” to traditional material like “You Are My Sunshine” and “Danny Boy.” Being such superior stylists guaranteed intriguing results. The set starts in high gear but soon settles into a mellow, contemplative groove. “Summertime,” “That Lucky Old Sun,” and “Stormy Weather” find Nelson and Russell moving away from their traditional country and rock ’n’ roll toward the sounds explored on Nelson’s Stardust with a gritty touch all their own. 

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