Digitally remastered by Jim Phillips (Universal Mastering Studios-West, North Hollywood, California).
This is part of MCA's 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection series.
Liner Note Author: Rich Kienzle.
Photographer: Wayne Knight.
Despite its ambitious title, this compilation actually focuses on only one small section of Waylon's career, from 1986-89. Consequently, anyone expecting an introduction to Jennings' oeuvre here will wind up rather confused.
Although Jennings spent the '70s breaking country taboos left and right as a founder of the outlaw country movement, by the '80s, his hard living had begun to catch up with him. By the middle of the decade he was led by slick production values rather than spearheading the sessions with his previous vigor. The feel of many tracks here is consequently more staid and the arrangements glossier than previous. The studio techniques of the '80s find their way into the arrangements, as synthesizers adorn several cuts, but then Waylon was never an Opry-loving Luddite when it came to such things. Despite the changes in Jennings' style, his inimitable voice is as commanding as ever, and there are some definite high points. The it-ain't-like-the-old-days griping of "If Ole Hank Could See Us Now," is endearingly ironic rather than reactionary. "Trouble Man" is agreeably swampy and ornery (probably due to the Tony Joe White co-write), and his version of Los Lobos' "Will the Wolf Survive?" is revelatory.