Willie Nelson,
Crazy: The Demo Sessions
(Sugar Hill, 2003)

When I first spun Willie Nelson's Crazy: The Demo Sessions, I admit I was at a loss for words. I actually struggled to write this review. Here were 15 tracks of just Willie and a guitar, or else joined by a small studio band in a few tracks, showcasing the simple genius of the country legend. In some cases, these songs, as well as the recordings themselves, had never been released.

This is a showcase of the legendary artist/songwriter in a relaxed studio session of demos produced for Pamper Music, the song publishing company of Hal Smith and Ray Price. Recorded between 1960 and '66, these rarities were uncovered in '94 simply labeled "Pamper Demos" in the vaults of Sony/ATV/Tree. Tree had purchased Pamper in '69, and Sony eventually purchased Tree in '89.

Recordings like these are usually not intended for public consumption and are often recorded over, if not simply tossed away. So this is truly a rare and treasured find. Among these are original demos of "Three Days," "Crazy" (made famous by Patsy Cline) and the all-time showstopper "I Gotta Get Drunk," one of my personal favorites.

Also included are previously unreleased songs such as "I'm Still Here," an enhanced video interview with Hank Cochran, who helped Willie get his start, and three hidden bonus tracks.

Simply put, if you love Willie, then you need this album -- 15 tracks highlighting the early works of one of country's greatest living legends. Truly a gem of a find and a prize to any fan of Willie Nelson.

- Rambles
written by Charlie Irons
published 10 July 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.