|Waylon Jennings & the Waymore Blues Band - Never Say Die: The Final Concert Film|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by John Sutton-Smith|
|Saturday, 01 September 2007|
label: RCA Legacy
reviewer: John Sutton-Smith
It is probably fair to say that Waylon Jennings was the original outlaw. Willie’s a great American rebel, so is Merle, and Johnny was in a class of his own, but of the modern cowboy outlaws who turned Nashville on its ear, Waylon Jennings was the original brand.
The artistic freedom that is taken for granted by contemporary country artists is due in great part to Waylon Jennings. His protest against the Nashville establishment, later joined by Willie and others, revived country music and kept it relevant to this day. On what would have been Jennings’s 70th birthday, RCA/Legacy has come up with Never Say Die: The Final Concert, a commemorative package of his last concert, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in 2000.
The three-disc set chronicles those final Ryman concerts that brought Jennings, his health failing, and his legendary Waymore Blues Band back together for one farewell show, with guest appearances by wife Jessi Colter, John Anderson, Montgomery Gentry and Travis Tritt. The package contains a full-length concert DVD, 22 performances lasting almost two hours, in stereo and 5.1 mixes, plus some interesting interview and documentary footage. The two CDs also present the full-length concert, along with eight previously unreleased tracks.
If you’re a Waylon fan, you know the songs, and a good number of them are here: favorites like “Amanda” and a medley of his own “Good Hearted Woman” and “Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” as well as “Waymore’s Blues” (with help from Anderson), and “Storms Never Last,”co-written with Colter, whose medley, including the previously unreleased “Suspicious Minds,” is a highlight of the show. He tackles a couple of ‘70s non-country chestnuts, “Never Been to Spain” and “Drift Away,” and is unforgettable as, for the last time, he makes his way through a couple more heretofore unreleased songs with poignant lyrics, “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and “The Weight.”
The CD includes eight tracks that are not on the full-length concert DVD, somewhat a contradiction in terms, but great tracks nonetheless. “Havin’ the Blues” and “Shakin’ the Blues” are highlights, in addition to the aforementioned.
This is an emotional and triumphant farewell to the first outlaw of modern country music.
The sound on this dynamic live recording is surprisingly crisp, with every
instrument warm and clear, while incorporating the ambience and
excitement of the audience. The emotions that were obviously running through the crowd that evening are obvious, and somehow that sense is present on these recordings, on the feedback from the band itself and their performance, and also on the audience and its palpable affection for a country legend.
The 5.1 mix on the DVD is astonishing in its clarity and sense of the real live experience as it’s happening – a great job.
Along with the concert, the DVD includes a half-hour documentary with new, or never-seen, rehearsal footage and interviews from 2000 with Waylon as well as Colter, Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Chet Atkins. It's interesting stuff, and moving, not just for Jennings fans, but for anyone who loves alternative country music.