Sony's Playlist series is a 21st century approach to the "best-of" compilation. The packaging is "eco-friendly," and the sets offer both CD-quality music and downloadable MP3 files. In addition, instead of liner notes and photos in a printed booklet, they are provided as extra material on the CD itself. Budget-priced, they attempt to provide a well-rounded view of each artist in studio and live settings from well-known songs and albums. Waylon Jennings' volume contains some of his most beloved songs, yet a few of these choices are somewhat curious. The early '70s are represented by the title cut from Honky Tonk Heroes and the reading of Kris Kristofferson's "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)" from The Taker/Tulsa. "Dreaming My Dreams," from the absolutely classic album of the same name, is here, as is "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean" from Ol' Waylon and "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand" off I've Always Been Crazy. And while it's essential that "Good Ol' Boys" -- the theme from The Dukes of Hazzard -- and "Luckenbach, Texas" with Willie Nelson are here, was it absolutely essential to include "Amanda" from Greatest Hits or "The Conversation" duet with Hank Williams, Jr., or even "Good Hearted Woman," a second duet with Nelson? This collection might have been more balanced if the producers had at least included one cut from the 1960s, such as the cover of Bobby Womack's "It's All Over Now" from The Dark Side of Fame (the album was issued as The One and Only in 1967, then re-released in 1976 with its more famous title), "Love of the Common People," or even the well-known cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" from Jennings' self-titled album in 1969. Certainly one can't have everything on a 14-song compilation, but given the limitations of the format, every song should count in delivering the best representation possible of an artist's career. This one defines the superstar, but not the singer and songwriter who was the original outlaw. ~ Thom Jurek
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