"Shotgun Willie sits around in his underwear..." What a fantastic way to start an album! Following a brief retirement from the country music machine and the stranglehold that was the "Nashville Sound", Willie Nelson headed for
and began performing sporadic gigs for throngs of hippies at the (now legendary) Armadillo World Headquarters. While a few recognized him as the writer behind Patsy Cline's "Crazy" or Ray Price's "Night Life", the majority of the crowds knew of Willie Nelson as the man who famously ran back into his burning house to save his weed stash. That all changed with the release of Shotgun Willie. Led by the one-two punch of its title track and the anthemic "Whiskey River", the album was a potent brew of southern horns, Willie's laid back vocal delivery and a crack team of session players that included Doug Sahm and Augie Myers on guitar, James Clayton Day on a heavenly pedal steel and, of course, Willie's sister Bobbie Nelson on acoustic and electric pianos. Shotgun Willie simultaneously kicked off the "outlaw country movement", served as a towering monument to original, un-formulaic country music and was a giant middle finger aimed in the direction of Austin . The version here is doubled in length by a wealth of outtakes and alternate versions. Much like Willie himself, it's every bit as incredible today as it was then. Nashville, Tennessee
The LP was reissued a few years back as part of the amazing Complete Atlantic Sessions box, which bundles his first couple of Atlantic albums with a live set from that period. Absolutely essential.