Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard/Ray Price Last Of The Breed

Collaborations amongst these three country music legends have been frequent over the years but with all of them now well into their 70s, Last Of The Breed initially sounds like a pleasant gathering of old friends reminiscing on past glory. In large part that’s exactly what it is, as the 22 songs spread over two discs are mostly chestnuts like "Mom And Dad’s Waltz,” "That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine” and "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down.” But for every well-known tear-jerker and beer drinking anthem there’s also run-throughs of songs that have always reached for something deeper, like Hank Williams’s "Lost Highway” and Kris Kristofferson’s "Why Me.” Add to that the fact that these are the guys (not to mention producer Fred Foster) who made many of these songs famous in the first place and the significance of Last Of The Breed, in terms of encapsulating country music’s golden age into 80 minutes, suddenly becomes clear. And while Price never embraced the "outlaw” ethos like Nelson and Haggard, thus perhaps diminishing his hipness, his smooth tones remain in fine form, perfectly suited to this material. Maybe one disc would have sufficed but then again, Nelson, Haggard and Price have earned the right to do whatever they want. And Last Of The Breed proves that no one else can do it like they can.

(Lost Highway/Universal) (Lost Highway)