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Never Say Die Live! (Lucky Dog)

Waylon and Waymore blues band album review

What is it with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings? These guys could have retired on their laurels many a moon ago, but they keep on making music. And great music at that - their most recent albums just might be their best.

This one, recorded live at the Ryman Auditorium, finds Waylon cutting loose with a rocking, socking concert, backed by some of the best musicians and guest artists on the planet. He kicks it off with Tony Joe White's soulful, swamp-rocker "Closing In On The Fire," then teams up with John Anderson for a kick-butt version of his trademark "Waymore's Blues." Waylon's metronomic performing style perfectly suits his No. 1 hit from 1979, "Amanda," that's craftily coupled with "A Couple More Years."

A delicate keyboard intro sets the stage for the sensitive delivery of the reflective "Nothing Catches Jesus By Surprise." The crowd comes alive with the first licks of the famous "Good Hearted Woman," punctuated by that incessant, wall-rattling Waylon beat.

Waylon's wife and soulmate, Jessi Colter, reprises her No. 1 smash from 25 years ago, "I'm Not Lisa," breathing new life into the heartbreaking lyrics. Waylon then joins his better half for a stirring duet on "Storms Never Last." Present-day bad boy duo Montgomery Gentry hooks up with earlier-day rounder Waylon for a rambunctious version of "(I'm A) Ramblin' Man," and Travis Tritt joins the action for a super-charged run through "I've Always Been Crazy."

Still at the peak of his powers, Waylon adheres to the lyrics of another album highlight, "Goin' Down Rockin' ": If I can't go down rockin'/I ain't gonna go down at all.

- G.W.

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