This 100-song retrospective covers all the varied phases of the Outlaw Country godfather’s 50- plus years of trend-setting pop and country music making. For the first time in a Nelson compilation, material is drawn from the entire span and all the record labels of his near-mythic career. Beginning in the mid- 50s with a couple of radio station titles (the Lefty Frizell-like When I’ve Sang My Last Hillbilly Song and his own No Place For Me) and ending, quite appropriately, with 2006’s Bubbles In My Beer (by fellow songwriter Cindy Walker) and a recent studio recasting of the aforementioned Last Hillbilly Song.
Basically, the first CD presents a series of great but mostly over-produced Nelson titles, while the remaining three work their roughly chronological way through the succeeding decades, where Nelson boldly followed his Texas instincts wherever they led him. The inclusion of plenty of duets, with the likes of Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings (the classic Good Hearted Woman), Leon Russell, Webb Pierce (on Jimmie Rodgers’ In The Jailhouse Now), Ray Charles, Faron Young, Hank Snow (on Snow’s rocking I’m Movin’ On) and Julio Iglesias make for particularly enjoyable listening.