Willie Nelson,
Live at Billy Bob's Texas
(Smith, 2004)

On Live at Billy Bob's Texas, Willie Nelson is so laid back one may believe he is playing a concert from his bed. Even the late Perry Como, who was the epitome of the laidback crooners, could offer more excitement than Nelson and his band exhibit during this performance.

We all know that, while Nelson has never been a very charismatic showman in concert (no one has ever expected a dynamic Springsteen-style performance from him), he was always able to deliver the goods. Yet all through this live, 20-song disc, Nelson sounds as if he's barely awake. His vocals are below par. Too many times he lazily "speak sings" the lyrics. This is especially noticeable on more familiar material such as "All of Me," "Blue Skies" and "On the Road Again." His guitar playing is atonal, too. And, throughout the entire performance, his axe work sounds as unmelodic as his singing.

The bonus live DVD that comes with the CD doesn't add anything at all.

We've all heard better Nelson than Live at Billy Bob's Texas and I hope we will again. Perhaps it was just an off night and not an indication that Nelson's best days are behind him.

by Charlie Ricci
1 April 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.