Willie Nelson & Friends Live & Kickin'

This quickly assembled document of Nelson’s 70th birthday concert in New York this past April features a predictable cast of all and sundry who have been associated with Nelson over his career. As such, there is an equal number of head-scratching performances as there are gems, and it’s releases such as this that test a true fan’s devotion to the Red-Headed Stranger. First, the good stuff: Nelson and Norah Jones are a perfect match on "Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want To Get Over You),” while a similar smouldering chemistry is nearly achieved with Shelby Lynne on "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground.” Old friends Ray Charles and Leon Russell help turn "A Song For You” into a rousing reunion. And how can anything bad be said about Nelson and ZZ Top joining forces? Now the bad stuff: Just seeing names like Shania Twain, Toby Keith and Steven Tyler are probably enough to turn off many, but the true dreck has to be Wyclef Jean on the already brutal "To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before,” and future divorcees Diana Krall and Elvis Costello torturing everyone with "Crazy.” I guess we should all be so lucky to have such friends when we’re 70. (Lost Highway)