Description

Willie Nelson and Leon Russell’s 1979 “ONE for the ROAD” LP signed on the cover in blue marker by Willie Nelson.

 

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Review: (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

One for the Road, Willie Nelson’s duet record with fellow American music maverick Leon Russell, followed months after his freewheeling, jam-heavy double album Willie and Family Live. This record (once a double LP, now a single CD) wasn’t recorded live and the songs run a little shorter, but it shares the same sort of loose spirit and easy-rolling eclecticism as the two, essentially backed by the Family, run through a mess of country and pop standards. The latter makes up for the second half and its appropriately a little more subdued feel, but it’s earthier than Stardust and it makes a good companion for the irresistible first half, which is often cheerfully rowdy (particularly on the dynamite opening triptych of “Detour,” “I Saw the Light,” and “Heartbreak Hotel”) and convincingly bluesy on the ballads and mid-tempo groovers like the excellent “Trouble in Mind.” Both Nelson and Russell are known as sharp interpreters of other people’s material, and teamed together, they might not reinvent these songs (though they come close on “Heartbreak Hotel”), but they infuse a lot of sound and spirit into these songs. It’s a little bit too laid-back and easy to qualify as a no-holds-barred classic (particularly on the second half), but that mellow charm is precisely why it’s a small, priceless gem for any serious fan of either singer.