Willie Nelson – Phases And Stages (1974/2014) [HDTracks FLAC 24bit/192kHz]

Willie Nelson – Phases And Stages (1974/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 34:24 minutes | 1,24 GB | Genre: Country
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Front Cover | © Rhino Atlantic

Nelson’s first “concept” album, the Jerry Wexler-produced (at Muscle Shoals) Phases and Stages, providing both a man and a woman’s viewpoints on a crumbling marriage. First released in 1974, it features the stand-outs “Bloody Mary Morning,” “Walkin’,” “Pretend I Never Happened,” and the title track.

If Shotgun Willie played a bit like a concept album, Phases and Stages was a full-blown one, tracing the dissolution of a marriage and devoting one side to the wife’s perspective, the second to the husband’s. If anything, Willie overplays his hand a bit, insisting on grafting the “Phases and Stages” theme between crucial songs to the point of genuine irritation. But, pretend that never happened, erase it from your mind, and Phases and Stages is easily the equal of its remarkable predecessor, a wonderful set of music that resonates deeply, as deeply as the words. Make no mistake — the deceptively relaxed arrangements, including the occasional strings, not only highlight Nelson’s clever eclecticism, but they also heighten the emotional impact of the album. And this is a hell of an emotional record, where even each side’s celebratory honky tonk numbers (the medley “Sister’s Coming Home/Down at the Corner Beer Joint” and “Pick Up the Tempo,” respectively) are muted by sadness. Then, there are the centerpieces: “Walkin’,” where the woman decides it’s time to move on; “Pretend I Never Happened,” perhaps the coldest ending to a relationship ever written; “Bloody Mary Morning,” a bleary-eyed morning-after tale that became a standard; “It’s Not Supposed to Be That Way,” a nearly unbearably melancholy account of a love gone wrong; and “Heaven and Hell,” a waltz summary of the relationship. Any two of these would have formed a strong core for an album, but placed together in a narrative context, their impact is even more considerable. As a result, this is not just one of Willie Nelson’s best records, but one of the great concept albums overall. ~~AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1 Phases And Stages (Theme)/Washing The Dishes 1:42
2 Phases And Stages(Theme)/Walkin’ 4:05
3 Pretend I Never Happend 2:59
4 Sister’s Coming Home/Down At The Corner Beer Joint 2:45
5 (How Will I Know) I’m Falling In Love Again 3:25
6 Bloody Mary Morning 2:48
7 Phases And Stages (Theme)/No Love Around 2:23
8 I Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone 4:15
9 It’s Not Supposed To Be That Way 3:27
10 Heaven And Hell 1:52
11 Phases And Stages (Theme)/Pick Up The Tempo/Phases And Stages (Theme) 4:26

Willie Nelson – acoustic guitar, vocals
Fred Carter, Jr. – acoustic, 12-string, & electric guitars, dobro
Pete Carr – acoustic & electric guitars, dobro, background vocals on “Pick Up the Tempo”
John Hughey – pedal steel guitar
Johnny Gimble – fiddle, mandolin
Barry Beckett – keyboards
David Hood – bass
Roger Hawkins – drums
Eric Weissberg – banjo on “Down at the Corner Beer Joint”
Al Lester – fiddle on “Bloody Mary Morning”
Jeannie Greene – background vocals on “Pick Up the Tempo”
George Soulé – background vocals on “Pick Up the Tempo”
Mike Lewis – string arrangements on “I Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone” and “It’s Not Supposed to Be that Way”