Review: Willie Nelson & Asleep At The Wheel - Willie And The Wheel

Two major artists have combined to create a Western Swing tour de force with "Willie And The Wheel," which teams the legendary Asleep At The Wheel with Willie Nelson. The famed, late music executive Jerry Wexler had championed this project for 30 years, and thankfully he got to hear this new Western Swing classic before his death.

Indeed, the genre of Western Swing gets a major shot in the arm with this crisp and original album that will introduce legions of new fans to a musical genre that is as American as apple pie but rarely gets enough attention. Jerry Wexler, known mostly for R&B, had been a personal fan of Western Swing classic artists such as Cliff Bruner, Bob Wills and Milton Brown who were popular when he studied journalism in Kansas City. His vision for this concept album was a masterful stroke of genius that we can all enjoy today.

As an album, the 12 songs on "Willie And The Wheel" all work together to ensure that listeners once again rediscover the brilliance of the Western Swing genre. The best song on the album is the effervescent "Corrine Corrina" which perfectly blends the vocal talents of Willie Nelson with the always perfect instrumentation of Asleep At The Wheel. Produced by Ray Benson, the entire album's production is outstanding.

The highlight (and biggest surprise) of the album is "South" which pairs Paul Shaffer and Vince Gill along with their heroes, Willie Nelson and Asleep At The Wheel. The song works on many levels and is a standout performance in the careers of all the aforementioned artists.

"Willie And The Wheel" will be treasured as a new Western Swing classic, and it can stand proudly among the great Western Swing albums of the past. This is a landmark recording that deserves all the praise and lauding it will no doubt be receiving for years to come and is a career highlight in the already critically acclaimed music catalogs of Willie Nelson and Asleep At The Wheel.