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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Honky Tonk Heroes

Waylon Jennings

1973

Honky Tonk Heroes

Album Summary

Honky Tonk Heroes is a country music album by Waylon Jennings, released in 1973 on RCA Victor. With the exception of "We Had It All", all of the songs on the album were written or co-written by Billy Joe Shaver. The album is considered an important piece in the development of the outlaw sub-genre in country music as it revived the honky tonk music of Nashville and added elements of rock and roll to it. Jennings had invited the then unknown Shaver to Nashville to write the songs for Jenning's next album after hearing him sing "Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me" before the 1972 Dripping Springs Reunion. When Shaver arrived in Nashville, he spent six months pursuing Jennings before again convincing him to make an album of his songs. Jennings had recently renegotiated his contract with RCA Records. The label granted him creative control over his work to avoid losing him to Atlantic Records. As his usual producer, Chet Atkins, was reluctant to release a record consisting of songs written by an unknown songwriter, Jennings replaced him with Tompall Glaser. Jennings replaced the Nashville session musicians with his own band, The Waylors. The executives of RCA Records were reluctant to release the album, and delayed it until July 1973. Honky Tonk Heroes had a good reception by the critics on release. It reached number 14 in Billboard's Top Country albums chart. The singles "You Asked Me To" and "We Had It All" did well, reaching number 8 and 28, respectively. The album was listed in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.01

Votes

5251

Genres

  • Country
Reviews
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Fri Apr 22 2022
5

My 16 year old self would've wanted to punch me for saying this, but I actually really liked a Country album. Didn't overstay its welcome and after a stressful day of work, felt soothing. Had some great acoustic guitar and bass to accompany the outlaw imagery. Would say Omaha was the best of the bunch.

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Wed Mar 03 2021
3

Well, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I still really hate that whimpering steel guitar sound with a deep and abiding passion and the lyrical content of most of these songs absolutely do not connect with me. But not all of them. There are some solid tracks here. Enough to give it a middling grade from me, at least.

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

This is what country is about. Waylon takes pain and hope and love and blends it all together in a great album. He’s definitely a pillar of country for a reason.

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Thu May 13 2021
5

First album generated that I gave more than one listen for the day. Shaver writing for Waylon. Awesome.

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Fri Oct 15 2021
5

I loved it. It took me back to my childhood when I worked for my dads drywall company in hill yard (an area of spokane) and would go get lunch across the street and they played country music with slide steel guitars

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Thu Apr 08 2021
4

one of my favorite all time country albums. The birth of Outlaw country and by far Waylons best work (only album you really need by him imo). I always thought Willie Nelson was the better of the 2 but that this album may have been the best between them all. The tone, the lyrics, the non twang-y country and his deep voice all just took Country in the best direction it's ever been taken, mixed with blues and rockabilly

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Fri Jun 25 2021
4

This was actually pretty cool! Really liked the first song and seems like some funny/cool old country to have in your lexicon.

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Thu Jul 08 2021
4

Waylon gets in, handles his business, and gets out. Great lyrics (no, really, some true classics in here) and slick early-70s production make this a good time to listen to.

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Mon Aug 23 2021
3

Not a huge country fan, but don't mind this kind of "classic country". Songwriting is great and production is clean. Would have liked the songs to open up a bit more and have time for longer solos and more jamming, but I guess that wasn't the style.

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Fri Oct 29 2021
3

Pretty good listen, but it's short and forgettable. Favorite track might be Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me

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Thu Mar 25 2021
5

An underrated classic artist. Need to remember Waylon more!

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Thu Mar 25 2021
5

Take me back to Nashvillle right now. Lush with the kind of pathos and grit that all of favourite country music shows. Real characters in profound circumstances. Pure songwriting magic.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
4

Surprisingly really enjoyable. Old country is so much better than new country damn

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Thu Apr 01 2021
4

I'm finally able to appreciate classic country.

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Thu Feb 11 2021
5

I love Waylon. He practically created a genre. This album has many wonderful songs and is a perfect example of outlaw country.

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Thu Feb 18 2021
5

Loved it

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Sun May 30 2021
5

Really great album

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Tue Jul 20 2021
5

Bro deze gaat in de country rotation 5/5 bruuur yeeha

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Wed Jun 02 2021
5

This makes me want to go down to Nashville and party. :)

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Thu Sep 23 2021
5

This album is so great. Waylon pioneers country music in this album, and the vocal and instrumental performances are amazing. The songwriting is great and has tons of catchy stuff, and I will likely listen to this album several more times.

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Mon Oct 25 2021
5

Tykkäsin yllättävän paljon tästä kantrilevystä. Biisit oli tarttuvia, mutta ei mielestäni kuitenkaan liian renkutusta. Ja tunnelmallisesti pääsi hienosti kuvitelmien Route 66:lle rekan rattiin.

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

This is my first country album and it's actually really good!

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Mon Jan 17 2022
5

Tough, gruff, but real lyrics.

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Sun Mar 13 2022
5

CLASSIC!

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Wed Apr 27 2022
5

Damn good.

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Thu Apr 28 2022
5

As far as I'm concerned, this is what Country music is and should be. One of those albums that are historically important (laying the groundwork for all the Outlaw Country albums to come), but also just good fun to listen to.

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Wed Aug 17 2022
5

So I pretty much much hate all mainstream country from 1980 to now, it's absolute shit music. However I do love 70's outlaw country and I really love Waylon. This is one my favorite Waylon albums, a few of the slow numbers I don't particularly care for but Black Rose might be one of my favorite country tunes of all time, I love cranking that one. Given this might be the only Waylon album on the list I'm going 5 stars, more for Waylon than the album per se.

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Fri Aug 26 2022
5

The genesis of outlaw country. Just incredible. Best track: Honky Tonk Heroes

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Fri Sep 02 2022
5

Wonderful. I have very little knowledge of country music. And this is an awesome entry point.

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Thu Oct 13 2022
5

country music

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Wed Dec 07 2022
5

I am not the biggest fan of country music, specifically what they call country music today (some unholy blend of pop and country), but I've always had a soft spot for Waylon Jennings. Every time I listen to his music, I am immediately transported back in time to driving around in dad's old truck with him listening to Waylon on cassette. Dad loves Waylon, and has passed that admiration of his work on to me. Waylon, and specifically this album, is attributed to the start of the outlaw country subgenre. A perfect melding of rock/blues/country. This era of country was fantastic. So many amazing acts came as a direct result of the works of Waylon, Willie, Johnny, and Merle. It is insane how similar Colter Wall's voice is to Waylon's. Especially in the song Ain't No God In Mexico. Listen to that song, then listen to the song Raisin' Cotton by Colter Wall. The similarity is crazy!! Overall, I loved today's listen, and enjoyed shot of nostalgia that came with it! Favourite songs: Honky Tonk Heroes, Omaha, Black Rose, Slow Rollin' Low, Old Five and Dimers (Like Me), Low Down Freedom, Ride Me Down Easy, Ain't No God In Mexico Least favourite song: if forced to pick, Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me 5/5

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Tue Dec 13 2022
5

Loved this. Reminds me of fishing with my Grandpa.

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Thu Dec 15 2022
5

Even though it doesn’t have any of Waylon’s biggest hits, Honky Tonk Heroes is an excellent benchmark in a long catalogue. Its the first collaboration with Billy Joe Shaver as songwriter and it marks Waylon’s first album with full creative control. Stripped down arrangements made for an iconic sound that he and his peers would come to emulate and refine later, and come to be known as outlaw country. But this stands as one of his most consistent, with his own production work, the blueprint used throughout his career laid out in 27 minutes that stands up to repeated spins. Call it 4.5 stars, I’ll round it up.

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Thu Dec 22 2022
5

5.0 + Classic country sounding so human and sweet. Jennings’ voice expresses joy and aching sorrow and all the emotions in between. And the dueling lap steel and slide guitar on “You Ask Me To” is undeniably awesome.

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Fri Feb 03 2023
5

Slow Rollin Low has got to be one of the best songs of all time.

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Fri Oct 02 2020
4

i get what orville peck was talking about

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Thu Dec 10 2020
4

ótimo áulbom de country roots!

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Thu Feb 11 2021
4

Pretty good old country!

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Tue Mar 23 2021
4

Very nice, old school country. I learned what outlaw country music is from reading Waylon's bio.

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Tue Jun 08 2021
4

I actually rather enjoyed this and listened to it several times. I tend to gravitate towards the "outlaw" stuff from the 70s when it comes to country. Like Willie and Waylon.

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Wed Jul 21 2021
4

Fun country-western. Omaha was a standout!

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Tue Jul 06 2021
4

Tego sie nie spodziewalem, albumik country, a dokladnie outlawowego country z roku 73 na takiej liscie, szok i niedowierzanie, bo przeciez w tamtych czasach moda na disko funk, a kowboje juz dawno umarly, ale jednak nie wszedzie, bo ta plyta pokazuje , ze gatunki muzyczne, nawet tak niszowe, jak rozbojnickie granie wioskowe nie gina tak latwo, a moga sie nawet dobrze sprzedac, jesli sa zrobione na poziomie, a tutaj ten poziom jest widoczny od pierwszego do ostatniego traka, pan Jennings pod ktorego beltem jest ten material znalazl zloty srodek miedzy cechami klasycznych kawalkow countrowych, a bardziej przystepnym graniem w stylu rokowym, bo pomimo tego ze traki sa jak przystalo na ten gatunek raczej krotkimi kompozycjami, to instrumentalnie dzieje sie na nich duzo, do tego stopnia, ze niektore piosenki musialem sluchac po kilka razy, skupiajac sie na konkretnym kanale, bo jak na klasyka przystalo cechy mono nagran mocno sie przebijaja, wiec na lewym kanale akustyk jest szarpany, a na prawym odpowiada mu elektryk, kazdy trak ma chyba innego basiste, albo przynajmniej wykorzystuje inne typy gitar, bo ciezko znalezc identyczne brzmienia, tak samo z harpami, bo doslownie jakby kilka osob bylo tylko od tego, do tego smyczki, czy to wiolonczelii, badz skrzypcow pojawiaja sie w wiekszej liczbie niz jeden, moja teorie potwierdza sklad muzykow ktorzy brali udzial w nagrywaniu plyty, bo lista zawiera blisko 20 nazwisk, taka roznorodnosc wsrod grajacych przeklada sie na to, ze zaden trak nie brzmi tak samo, a to przeciez country, najnudniejszy instrumentalnie gatunek, o ile Jennings jest mastermindem tych kompozycji, to jednak nie spiewa on swoich kawalkow, bo wszystkie piosenki, poza we had it all, zdecydowanie najslabszej czesci plyty, szczesliwie to ostatni trak, jest mister Billy Joe Shaver, po ktorego zguglowaniu okazal sie tych archetypem wspolczesnego, jak na lata 70, kowboja, ktory scigal Jenningsa na drugi koniec stanow zeby ten zrobil material z jego tekstami i dopial swego, cale szczescie, bo o ile granie i kompozycja instrumentalna jest godna pochwaly, to jak dla mnie najbardziej te plyte robia wlasnie teksty, ktore tak plynnie oddaja ducha utraconego juz swiata tytulowych honky tonkowych herosow, czyli ludzi zyjacych z dnia na dzien i umierajacych z dnia na dzien, bez grosza przy duszy, ktorych najwiekszym zmartwieniem jest co dzisiaj zjesc, wiec opowiesci o kowbojach biedakach i pieknych kobietach, wielkich wygranych barowych kontestow, tanich alkoholach, prawie i jego strozach, milosci do swojej malej ojczyzny, a jednoczesnym umilowaniu wolnosci nieograniczonej zadnymi granicami, jesli w 73 byly to juz motywy na wymarciu, to obecnie sa one skamielinami, moze wlasnie dlatego tak dobrze sie tego slucha, na plejke z pewnoscia leci tytulowy trak, dodatkowo aint no god in mexico i willy the wandering gypsy and me, ale material 27 minutowy, wiec idealny na krotka sesje na raz

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Mon Feb 08 2021
4

Buen disco, la voz impresionante, me faltaria un poco más presencia de la banda en algunos momentos. Me gustaria pegarle más escuchas para saborearlo bien.

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Wed Mar 17 2021
4

I liked it.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
4

Thoroughly enjoyable. Works well with enjoyable rhythm and smooth lyrics

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Wed Jan 27 2021
4

Surprising great album, even if it's not my usual jam.

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Thu Apr 22 2021
4

Very listenable and just the right amount of country + rock'n'roll. I only really knew him from "Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys", so this was a bit of a pleasant revelation.

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Thu Jun 10 2021
4

Usually not my cup of tea, I found this country album quite enjoyable.

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Sat Mar 27 2021
4

One of the outlaws making classic country sounds. It’s easy to see how he made a difference in the genre.

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Tue Apr 06 2021
4

Quality old country album

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Wed Jul 21 2021
4

I love me some Waylon Jennings.

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Tue Jul 27 2021
4

Country I can get around. Old Five and and Dimers, Black Rose and Slow Rollin' Low are my highlights. Dudes lived an interesting life, shared a house with Johnny Cash and gave up his seat on the flight that killed Buddy Holly.

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Mon Aug 02 2021
4

Pretty good lawn cuttin music

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Tue Aug 24 2021
4

Enjoyed this very short album

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Sun Oct 03 2021
4

The first song was a banger. I liked this far more than I expected to.

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Mon Oct 11 2021
4

Country ass music

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Thu Oct 21 2021
4

Beep! Beep! There's a band named Cracker that was big in the 90's. Also, in the 90's I was once called honky - "What's up honky?!" ... and again, in the 90's... Archers of Loaf had an album called "White Trash Heroes," (the last song on that album by the same name is great). This album, "Honky Tonk Heroes" came out in the 70s. Evidently things had changed in the 20 years since Waylon Jennings had released this so I had to get to the bottom of what Honky Tonk was and I did a Wikipedia search. Evidently, there's a difference between country music and another similar style of music called Honky Tonk, whereas Country music was mostly from the rural south and had a religious slant to it whereas Honky Tonk was the style of music played by rural southerners who've moved to the city and discovered all of it's ills, which makes sense since WJ and Johnny Cash were known to do some pretty awesome drugs together. Oh! The album. As soon as I found out that this eschews any religious slant, it freed me up to listen to this with an open mind and guess what... ? I liked this way more than I thought I would. I especially liked that it was only 32 mins. I liked the pace of it. I liked the slide guitar and I liked his voice.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
4

Oof this is hard. I love a classic honkey tonk album, and this is certainly one. But is this the best? A true five star? Another four star ratIng—but I suspect this could have been a five star if I had grown up with it.

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Thu Dec 02 2021
4

I never got into country music until the last few years. Outlaw Country is the latest discovery for me and you can't have Outlaw without Waylon. Billy Joe Shaver's addition to the lineup helps turn this album into a fun romp. 4/5.

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Fri Dec 03 2021
4

Track 01 - 4.25/5 Track 02 - 3/5 Track 03 - 2.75/5 Track 04 - 3.5/5 Track 05 - 3.75/5 Track 06 - 3.5/5 Track 07 - 3/5 Track 08 - 3.25/5 Track 09 - 3.25/5 Track 10 - 2.75/5 Track 11 - 3.25/5 Track 12 - 3/5 Overall: 3.75/5 Album Art: 3.5/5

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Sun Dec 19 2021
4

I love Waylon. He's one of the absolute beet country musicians to walk the earth in my book. I want to give this a perfect score but I can't. I just think he has better albums than this. It's still really good though. It's just a shame that there's not much (mainstream) country that sounds even close to as good as this anymore.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
4

Muy agradable outlaw country, con una voz interesante porque no se pasa de pulida, pero tampoco es una rasposidad total. Excelentes riffs de guitarra y muy buen bajo. Es de esas cosas que estando en onda country pondría con gusto.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
4

Este álbum se me hizo muy interesante, ya que me parece muy icónico del country. No parece que tenga 50 años desde que se creó. También me llama mucho la atención la época en la que fue grabado; usualmente asociada al rock y al disco. Aunque tiene influencias de rock, es un rock mucho más clásico, como del tiempo de Elvis Presley.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
4

Disclosure: Soft spot in the heart for classic country, and in particular for Waylon Jennings and his contemporaries. The stark contrast of that era of Country versus the pop version of it we have today sort of lends to thinking of the latter as not being Country at all. Granted, the argument can be made that Country changes as the country changes, but in this context when "country" changes it is no longer "country", and the music demonstrates that. Nostalgia is okay here, styles go in and out, it is a part of life. This album checks off the list containing that mix of folksy and bluesy, something created out in a small country town vs. the big city studio (although it could have been) and that is a good thing.

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Wed Jan 12 2022
4

Liked this way more than I thought I would.

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Wed Jan 12 2022
4

I feel pretty nostalgic for this kind of music. My grandfather used to listen to Waylon. I've spent many an afternoon eating porkchops and listening to Waylon with him. He used to talk about the days of Running white lightning and shooting shit up. Different Life man. And these albums bring me back to that part of my childhood. While also helping me second hand experience some Whiskey fueled nights of Gooning around the mountains.

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Thu Jan 13 2022
4

This album is fantastic. Every time I hear a new Waylon album, the more I like him.

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Fri Jan 21 2022
4

4/5

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Wed Feb 02 2022
4

Not into country music myself but i find this a very enjoyable album I hope i find more like this one.

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Sun Feb 06 2022
4

good. I can see how this got the ball rolling on outlaw country for sure. that last song really hit

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Fri Feb 11 2022
4

Heerlijke honky tonk gedoe, super lekker

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Thu Feb 24 2022
4

4/5 deffo liked them quite a bit

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Wed Mar 16 2022
4

I really enjoy the storytelling on this, even though it gets mildy repetitive at times.

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Fri Apr 01 2022
4

Agréablement surpris, s'écoute beaucoup mieux que ce que j'anticipais. Ce genre de son country est beaucoup plus à mon goût que la majorité de ce qui est largement populaire.

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Mon Apr 04 2022
4

Classic country album, amazing ! Waylon is legendary and this music never gets old for me. Hopefully there will be some more albums of him on the list. Favourite songs: - Honky tonk heroes - Old five and dimers like me - Black rose

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Wed Apr 13 2022
4

Good ole Waylon

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Thu Apr 14 2022
4

Jako simpa album. Pogotovo mi se svidila black rose i we had it all. Isto tako obožavam izraz honky tonk.

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Fri Jun 03 2022
4

Not really knowing anything about C&W or aware of the different styles (Country or Honky-Tonk) and approaches (Outlaw or Nashville) this stands well on it's own without needing anything else. It's obviously not 'poppy' like say Kenny Rogers and Tammy Wynette and sounds more like a smokey bar whisky saloon version. It also sounds very 70's in a nostalgic good way.......but as I listened and then relistened the different tracks started to separate. Some tracks are out and out Country with a twangy guitar but also some tracks that are closer to Irish Folk (Willy & me) I think which is suprising since most were written by one guy (Billy Joe Shaver). What I'm saying is there's a fair bit of variety which makes it easy to listen to. Not bad.

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Wed Jun 22 2022
4

Shout out to weird voices. really enjoyed this.

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Fri Jun 24 2022
4

I actually enjoyed that a lot more than I thought I would I guess the execution was a lot better than most country I’ve heard 8/10

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Fri Jul 08 2022
4

Massa o countryzinho

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Mon Jul 11 2022
4

Credit where due. Simple tunes, quick album, lots of talent. Why do they fade out on guitar solos?

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Fri Jul 15 2022
4

4 stars easy. we got fast songs, we got slow songs. we got sad songs. we got fun songs.

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Tue Aug 02 2022
4

That was brilliant fun. A whole load of honkey and a big bunch of tonkey. Mates with Johnny Cash, apparently, and you can hear that. Cracking production.

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Wed Aug 10 2022
4

Oh hell yeah we gettin real country in this bitch. Cant say this is my genre at all but this shit bangs. Every song just sounds so poweful and heavy even when theres some parts where theres barely any noise. This absolutely doms mostly all current country music 7/10

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Fri Aug 12 2022
4

Honky tonky

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Wed Aug 17 2022
4

Now this is country music. I say I’m not a fan of country, but sometimes I am. This is an example of what I like. Stripped down, heartfelt, expert musicianship.

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Mon Aug 29 2022
4

Good old Waylon! Ik vind dit altijd lekker, wat een held

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Mon Sep 05 2022
4

Consistently enjoyable tunes. A very pleasant listen.

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Wed Sep 07 2022
4

I did not mind this; I might even have liked it. Every time I listened to it I was amazed at how quickly the album was over. Good news I think that there's no filler and no pained, overdone material. I liked Jennings vocals - a style somewhere between Cash and Presley. And he had some good beats to tap along to, as well as a nice mixture of old fashioned country and almost southern rock. Favorites - Honky Tonk Heroes, Willy the Wandering Gypsy, Omaha, You Ask Me To, Black Rose, and even that softy We Had It All. Yep, outlaw country is alright - far better than that country pop of today.

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Mon Oct 03 2022
4

Bring back old country

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Wed Oct 19 2022
4

Old school, outlaw, country. Waylon is wonderful.

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Sun Oct 23 2022
4

This is a fantastic record and one I found enjoying more the more I listened to it. Very low stress to listen too and very warm to put on in the background. The lyric "If I'd never felt the sunshine Hell, I would not curse the rain" is genius and is one of my favorite lyrics I've ever heard. The album starts super strong with the title track and 'Old Five and Dimers (Like Me)'. 'We Had It All' is a beautiful album closer. 'Ain't No God in Mexico' plays around with clever lyrism. But every song for me in the album is a is at least somewhere between good and very good.

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Wed Oct 26 2022
4

Kind of loved this. Grizzled and authentic.

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Thu Nov 10 2022
4

As a historical artifact it is essential in understanding where Outlaw Country came from. Also noteworthy is that this is very much a Waylon Jennings and Billy Joe Shaver project, as Shaver wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. Much of country music of this were hots driven albums with a lot of filler. Waylon Jennings did things his way and this is a true album, and every track is solid. There is a direct, nonsense sound that is eschews most of the slickness that was invading popular country music. In many ways this is a punk country record.

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Thu Nov 10 2022
4

One of country’s most iconic outlaws teams up with Billy Joe Shaver for songs celebrating wine, women, and the winding road. Though still in his 30s at the time, Jennings has a voice soaked in age and experience.

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Sun Nov 13 2022
4

Really great C&W album. It took a few listens to grow on me.

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Sun Nov 20 2022
4

Pretty damn good. These must’ve been real bangers performed live.

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Sun Nov 20 2022
4

I surprisingly liked it, not usually liking country. Goes hard.

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Fri Nov 25 2022
4

I really liked this, a fun listen and some songs saved.

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