Naked Willie album to preview on Willie’s Place, Sirius/XM Radio this weekend — with Mickey Raphael

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If you’ve been thinking about subscribing to Sirius/XM Radio (www.xmradio.com), this is the weekend to sign up.  Willie’s Place on Sirius/XM Radio will be previewing ‘Naked Willie,’ the newest Willie Nelson project, set to be released on March 17, 2009, throughout the weekend.   Also, as a bonus, the station will be be playing comments from Mickey Raphael, who spearheaded this project and brought ‘Naked Willie’ to life. 

Naked Willie is a selection of 17 songs recorded by Willie in Nashville in the 1960’s on the RCA label.  Produced by Chet Atkins, Willie’s tracks were smothered with strings and back up singers and molded into the commercially successful Nashville Sound.  By that time, Willie had achieved success as a song writer, and was sought after by other artists who wanted to record his songs.  Willie watched other artists top the charts with songs he had written, and decided to pursue his own recording career.   

At that time,  artists reportedly didn’t have any control over their own sound, rather the studio producers, with their business acumen and talent made the music appeal to the greatest number of people.   It must have worked for some artists and helped sell records, but when they applied that formula to Willie Nelson’s recordings, Willie’s sweet voice got buried, and his unique phrasing lost.  And that was what Willie’s long-time harmonica player, Mickey Raphael set out to do, to unbury those gems, and present them in a way that Willie might have done , if he’d been producing at the those sessions.

If you spend any time with Mickey Raphael, or read articles, you realize right away what a big Willie Nelson fan he is.    Think about it — for over thirty years, Mickey has been standing beside Willie Nelson on stage,  eyes focused on Willie.  That’s a lot of musical bonding.

So there was no surprise with the news that Mickey was taking Willie’s early recordings, and attempting to strip away layers of sound, revealing  the raw Willie Nelson’ music he put down forty years ago.   Mickey reports that he first got Willie’s blessing, then approached the label who loved the idea.  Mickey was given the analog tapes and worked with his producer in Nashville, to create Naked Willie.   The final product reflects a real respect for Willie, and an understanding of what Willie intended.

Make sure you read Peter ‘taB’ Walker’s interview, which follows this post, where Mickey talks about working on the project.

I love this album, hearing Willie sing those songs, with the musicians who recorded with him on the album, including Chet Atkins on guitar, Grady Martin, David Briggs, Chip Young, Jerry Reed and Buddy Harman.  Mickey commented on these studio musicians, when he  said, “I wanted these guys, and their great playing, to be heard again by a younger record buying generation.”

Tune in to Willie’s Place, Sirius/XM Radio, this weekend, to hear a preview of the album.  And on Tuesday, you can get your own copy.  You can pre-order it at Amazon now.

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1. Bring Me Sunshine
2. Following Me Around
3. The Ghost
4. Happiness Lives Next Door
5. I Just Dropped By
6. Jimmy’s Road
7. I Let My Mind Wander
8. If You Could See What’s Going Through My Mind
9. Johnny One Time
10. The Local Memory
11. The Party’s Over
12. Where Do You Stand?
13. When We Live Again
14. What Can You Do To Me Now?
15. I’m A Memory
16. Sunday Morning Coming Down
17. Laying My Burdens Down

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