by Willie Nelson
4.0 7

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Long before Bob Marley shot (or didn't shoot) the sheriff, American country music has had a loyal following in Jamaica. Hollywood westerns and FM radio brought the sounds and images of gunslingers and cowpokes to the roughest parts of Kingston and the peaceful hillside parishes alike; some of the earliest reggae hits were covers of songs by Jim Reeves, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings. Maybe that's what makes Countryman, Willie Nelson's foray into the one-drop rhythm, sound so natural. (Nelson's well-known affinity for Jamaica's other natural products may factor in, as well.) The tuneful, gospel-rooted cadences of country & western echo those of rocksteady-era hits by John Holt, Jimmy Cliff, Toots & the Maytals, and others. Of course, Nelson embellishes with plenty of pedal steel and slide guitar, giving a folk treatment to "The Harder They Come," for example, and his own behind-the-beat vocals on classics including "I've Just Destroyed the World," "Darkness on the Face of the Earth," and "You Left Me a Long, Long Time Ago" have at long last found a perfect setting. Jamaican friends Toots Hibbert and Pam Hall provide some soulful accompaniment (Toots dueting on Johnny Cash's "Worried Man" and Hall providing backup vocals throughout), but it's Don Was's echo-laden, bass-heavy production that gives Countryman its explicit Jamaican flavor. The only thing missing from this storied set, recorded ten years ago and lost in record-company shuffles, is the dub record. But that can't be too far away, right?

Product Details

Release Date: 07/12/2005
Label: Lost Highway
UPC: 0602498820551
catalogNumber: 000470602

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Willie Nelson   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Sweet Pea Atkinson   Vocals,Background Vocals
Mickey Raphael   Harmonica
Pam Hall   Vocals,Background Vocals
Dan Bosworth   Guitar
Harry Bowens   Vocals,Background Vocals
Santa Davis   Drums
Richard Feldman   Guitar
Toots Hibbert   Vocals
Wayne Jobson   Guitar
Donald Ray Mitchell   Vocals,Background Vocals
Stephen Stewart   Keyboards
Uziah "Sticky" Thompson   Percussion
Robby Turner   Dobro,Steel Guitar
Randy Jacobs   Guitar
Norris Webb   Keyboards
Mikey Hyde   Keyboards
Lieba Thomas   Background Vocals
Paul "Pablo" Stennett   Bass Guitar

Technical Credits

Willie Nelson   Composer
Ray Price   Composer
Jimmy Cliff   Composer
Craig Allen   Art Direction
Kim Buie   Executive Producer
June Carter Cash   Composer
Hank Cochran   Composer
Richard Feldman   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Rik Pekkonen   Engineer
Stephen Stewart   Engineer
Don Was   Producer,Audio Production

Customer Reviews

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Countryman 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first, the prospect of long-time country legend Willie Nelson releasing an all reggae album seems odd, if not downright out of place, but the more you listen, and the more you embrace the timeless groove of the melodies and Nelson's soothing, nearly hypnotic voice, the more you realize what a wonderful masterpiece this album really is! Along with "Spirit", "Teatro", and the ever classic "Red-Headed Stranger,", Willie progresses across uncharted ground in country music, allowing a new generation and genre to embrace his innovative works of art. This album may not sit well on the classic country ears, but for anyone that truly embraces what Willie is all about, will accept this with open arms, and certainly open ears. Listen closely, for just beyond the Jamaican beats and Caribbean instrumentation lies the soul basis of what country music is all about, a good story, unforgettable lyrics, and an emotion evoking tone that takes the listener to a higher ground, just set in a new and refreshingly exciting atmosphere. Along with his angelic, and sometimes duet partner Emmylou Harris, Willie continues to transcend genre and radio prejudice, embarking further on a journey that takes the listener beyond the place of their current existence. Willie Nelson is about exploring new musical styling's and progressing his timeless sound, and "Countryman" does just that. Hopefully this record is yet another sign in Nelson's long and musically illustrious career that his best may already be here with us, but there is certainly so much more to come!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Let me preface this review by saying that Willie's rocking "Whiskey River" is one of my favorite songs ever. Unfortunately, this ill-conceived disc is an abomination. Fans of Willie, country, reggae and music in general will run screaming. It's interesting at first. But then you realize this is a bad idea, as bad as Paul Anka's rock record. Even Toots Hibbert from Toots and the Maytalls can't save it. Stay away
Guest More than 1 year ago
...A nice refreshing blend of some great voices and music...we love it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ten years in the making, Willie Nelson (and 17 other musicians) fuse country and reggae sounds into an enticing and powerful concoction. But you’ve got to wonder why the record execs kept a lid on this music for nearly a decade? With rhythms to dominate the dancehalls and juke joints, Willie jumps right into the popular music style of Jamaica with largely original music he composed or co-wrote with others like Ray Price or Hank Cochran. A couple songs from Jimmy Cliff (The Harder They Come, Sitting in Limbo), and one from Johnny & June Carter Cash (I’m a Worrried Man) round out the set. All are presented with reggae’s characteristic chopped guitar or keyboard emphasizing the off beats. I wonder how Bob Marley would like this? I think he’d Be Happy! What’s the origin of this musical style? Mento, the island’s raggedy calypso style, originated in the 1950s. In the early 1960s, we started hearing about ska, a shuffling hybrid of mento and R&B. As ska became influenced by American rock in the late 1960s, some called it “rude boy” music for the street anarchists who followed the music. Reggae emerged as a popular influence on world music in the 1970s, largely thanks to its talented superstar Bob Marley who was also a powerful moral authority when the U.S. was at war in Vietnam. The word “reggae” might come from the patois “streggae” (rudeness) or perhaps “regge-regge” (quarrel). Toots (Frederick) Hibbert who wrote “Do the Reggay” once said the term is merely descriptive, meaning simply “regular.” Toots makes a special guest cameo appearance on Willie’s album at track 3, “I’m a Worried Man.” Toots, you may remember, gave us a successful reggae cover of John Denver’s “Country Roads,” and his “True Love” album release even featured an appearance of Nelson. Reggae was influenced by Rastafarianism, a cult belief that racial harmony wouldn’t work and that blacks should return to Africa. The Rastas were ascetic, vegetarian and peaceful. They also had an affinity for powerful ganja as an aid to meditation. The best songs that work for Willie Nelson are those with hard-hitting social messages that speak from the heart of the proletariat, such as “The Harder They Come” and “I’m a Worried Man.” A catchy song like “Sitting in Limbo” has potential to become a reggae classic. “Countryfarianism” could be the moniker for Willie’s new, hypnotic, bass-dominated sound. He still focuses on making a statement with his music, and he reinvents some of his classics like “One in a Row,” “You Left Me a Long Time Ago,” and “Darkness on the Face of The Earth.” It makes sense that Willie chooses Jamaica’s shuffling “country” music style to infuse these chestnuts with new ingredients of repose and consciousness. Willie’s relaxed vocal delivery is perfect for the spiritual essence of this new blend that will send lightning bolts striking through the followers of both genres. (Joe Ross)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don’t think I’ve ever realized, until listening to this album, just how much the genres of reggae and country have in common. In Countryman, they seem to blend seamlessly to form a mellow, relaxing and enjoyable listening experience. The guitars glide effortlessly over lilting grooves, all topped off by Willie’s warm, rich vocals. This is a quite consistent record thematically. Most of the songs deal with lost, false or failed love affairs. However, a few tracks do stand out nicely. “I’m a Worried Man” discusses oppression, fear and poverty, “The Harder They Come” talks about the struggle to get one’s share in a cruel and unfair world, and “Sitting In Limbo” is a testament to the power of faith in the midst of uncertainty. The instrumentation here is enjoyable, the backing vocals are lovely, and Willie performs each piece with sincerity and affection. It is obvious that this album, which was ten years in the making, was a real labor of love, and for that, Nelson should certainly be commended. This music is Willie Nelson like you’ve never heard him before, and, although there is nothing in this album that will leave you breathless or shock you into awed speculation, Willie has delivered a quite unique and very enjoyable piece of work, perfect for days on the beach, humming around the house, or pretty much any occasion that calls for some mellow music. This is a very well done effort, and well worth the listen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My favorite musician delivers again proving that he is a master of any style he touches. Friendly and comfortable, this record puts a smile on my face with each listen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fun Willie Nelson CD. I like Reggae and Willie, good combination.