Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Even though Waylon Jennings virtually disowned this album as a hoodwink job by RCA brass and some of these tracks were unfinished and others mere demos, Ladies Love Outlaws nonetheless has some very fine moments, including Jennings' version of "Delta Dawn," a fine emotionally wrought read of Hoyt Axton's "Never Been to Spain" (which Jennings claimed was never intended for release), and Mickey Newbury's "Frisco Depot" (one of the few tracks the singer considered complete). In addition, there's Ralph Mooney's (who plays pedal steel in this band) classic honky tonk anthem "Crazy Arms" and one of the reclusive Lee Clayton's best songs in the title track. Listeners also get a solid, moving duet version of "Under Your Spell Again," with Jessi Colter. These performances offer Jennings in deeply expressive terrain as a vocalist. He wrings emotion from songs rather than merely projecting them into a microphone, and his band, which includes bassist Norbert Putnam and drummer Kenny Butrey as well as guitarist Dave Kirby and pianist Hargus Robbins, turns the volume up a point or two and lends a slippery greasy hand to the entire proceeding. Ladies Love Outlaws is not a perfect Waylon album, but it's worth owning for the fact that while Jennings may have disliked the finished result, he proves to be no judge of his own work. In essence, this is the outlaw primer, and the beginning of the opening of the field.