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Stardust: Legacy Edition by Willie Nelson

Grade: A+

Following the breakthrough of the Outlaw movement in the mid-1970s, Willie Nelson had earned the right to make whatever sort of music he pleased.

To the horror of his record label, the guy who had just established himself as a rough-and-ready rebel chose to record Stardust, an album of 1920s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s pop standards produced by R&B organist Booker T. Jones.

As usual, Willie’s instinct proved correct: Three decades later, Stardust remains a perfectly conceived meeting of singer, songs and sound.

With the help of Booker T.’s sympathetic production, Willie liberates tunes like “Blue Skies” and “All of Me” from decades’ worth of tuxedoed lounge singers.

This new “Legacy Edition” reissue includes an additional disc that features other standards Willie recorded between 1976 and 1990, a well-assembled selection demonstrating that his knack for performing these songs neither began nor ended with Stardust.

Nonetheless, it is the original album itself that stands tall as an inarguable testament to one man’s genre-blind love for a great song.

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