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Willie Nelson: Naked Willie 

In the late 1960s, Chet Atkins tried to change the public image of country music from the simple hillbilly mentality to the country-politan "Nashville sound," a modernized, lush, often overproduced mess. Willie Nelson, well known as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, put out a series of these tainted, schmaltzy albums loaded with flourishing strings and multivoice harmonized vocals that buried the words. Nelson's harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, recently stripped the excess tracks from those old master tapes, finding some of Nelson's most powerful performances and some of his finest material. Naked Willie is comprised of 17 songs featuring Nelson and many of Nashville's finest country studio musicians. The tunes take on a whole new life, and the rediscovery of these gems is an aural epiphany. The stunning anti-war ballad "Jimmy's Road" is as relevant now as it was then, and the purity of "I Just Dropped By" defines country. Sometimes, less is more. 5 out of 5 stars.

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