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Willie and the Wheel by Willie Nelson with Asleep at the Wheel

During the brief period in the mid-1970s when Willie Nelson was signed to Atlantic Records, he and producer Jerry Wexler cooked up an idea: an album of Western swing classics, performed by Willie with Asleep at the Wheel as his backing group.

Willie left Atlantic before the idea could go anywhere, but all three parties decided a couple of years ago that it was a concept worth reviving.

Willie and the Wheel couldn’t have sounded any more lively and joyous if it actually had been recorded way back when. Willie and Wheel leader Ray Benson are old friends who share the Western swing legacy of their home state, Texas, and an obvious love for these 12 vintage numbers.

Jerry Wexler passed away last August at age 91, shortly after Willie and the Wheel was completed, and it stands as a testament to a great music man’s instincts.

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