The Very Best Of Outlaw Country -Various Artists (Sony Legacy)
With country music in the prime of life in the 60's, with pop success boistering the coffers of country singers across the land, something started to brew down in Texas. Willie Nelson had returned to the Lone Star state, disallusioned at the Nashville conveyor belt. By the 70's he was back home, cutting what he wanted. The sound was coming from the man in jeans not the man in the suit. Whilst his buddy Waylon Jennings stayed in Music City he was ditching the vocals choruses and dancing to his own beat. The term Outlaw was coined and after that pretty much ever guitar picker with a beard and long hair was branded and added to the movement. Whilst it's easy to blanket cover them all under the one heading, there was actually more than one umbrella. Some of it was southern-rock, some was country-rock and some was pure country music but with more hair. This collection highlights the different styles and covers the 70's, 80's, 90's and 00's, and is a delight from start to finish.
Obviously there's a few Willie and Waylon songs and they're top drawer. From the good-ole-boy school of country we get Charlie Daniels' glorious high-stepper, The South's Gonna Do It Again and Hank Williams Jr. and All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight. Billy Joe Shaver's, I Been To Georgia On A Fast Train, is great although I prefered his 90's remake complete with late son Eddie. From the "Wanted" and of the Outlaw concept we get the prison-bound bad boys, Johnny Paycheck and his classic Take This Job And Shove It and David Allan Coe's brilliant You Never Even Called Me By My Name with the hilarious perfect last verse.
There's some cracking southern rock items in the form of Ramblin' Man by the Allmans, Georgia Satellites' Keep Your Hands To Yourself, Flirtin' With Disaster by Molly Hatchet and the kings of the genre, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Gimme Three Steps. There's a trio of women who all kick ass, Jessi Colter (not always my favouriter singer) with Why You Been Gone So Long, Tanya Tucker with the catchy Texas (When I Die) and from more recent times, Gretchen Wilson and the barroom baller, Here For The Party. Others of more recent vintage are Steve Earle and Travis Tritt and Shooter Jennings who holds his own with one of his best, 4th of July. If you just listen to the music and don't get bugged out by whether a particular song is "Outlaw" music or not, you'll love it. To me, outlaw is more about the attitude than the music, and for that, every song here passes the test.