The Essential Willie Nelson (Columbia/Legacy)
A special Road Warrior issue wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of the redheaded stranger who rarely seems to be off the road. This double-disc compilation, consisting of 39 tracks, traces all of the great traveling songs, such as “On the Road Again,” “Highwayman,” Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” and “Georgia on My Mind.” With this release another milestone is reached as Willie turns a young 70 this year, and the album’s accompanying booklet contains well wishes and personal accounts from the famous friends that Willie’s music has touched over the years.
No Depression (Columbia/Legacy) The first three albums from Belleville, Illinois’ favorite alt-country trio, have finally arrived on the heels of the bestselling 2002 anthology. Fully remastered and containing extra nuggets for fans (like new liner notes, and at least five bonus tracks on each disc), these are collector’s items for diehards, and a perfect introduction for new listeners to hear what they’ve been missing. Now if the band would only get back together for a tour.
— JAMES E. MAYFIELD