Rick Nelson: The Complete Epic Recordings

Note that the iTunes track previews above and the iTunes link below point to the earlier, shorter Rick Nelson album Stay Young: The Epic Recordings because The Complete Epic Recordings is not available as a digital download.

Co-starring with his real-life family on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952–1966), Rick (then Ricky) Nelson launched a volley of hit songs by performing them on the TV show—a then-revolutionary move. Rick, whose early hits bore countryish sensibilities, would become a first-wave proponent of the California country-rock sound.

The Complete Epic Recordings (among Rick’s last sessions before a December 1985 plane crash claimed his life) revisits the difficult late-’70s period of his career and the sometimes awkward attempts to reconcile Rick’s country and roots-rock tastes with contemporary trends. The two-disc set is a varied but country-leaning package that notably includes the original, untampered-with version of his last album for Epic (released only in a controversially altered form after his death).

Cut in Memphis, the album finds Rick focused and inspired. While the differences heard on this version are mostly of minor significance, here we’re allowed to experience Rick’s original vision, as well as the previously absent, album-title-worthy track “It Shall Remain,” a melancholy but fitting and long-overdue eulogy to an often overlooked pioneer.

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