Album Review: Waylon Jennings & The Waymore Blues Band - Never Say Die

The Outlaw Country Star's Unforgettable Performance

Waylon Jennings Never Say Die
Alakey2010/Wikimedia Commons/Fair Use

I'm not sure I can find the words to adequately review Never Say Die: The Complete Final Concert (Live). The only word that keeps running through my head after watching and listening is, "Wow!" Maybe "amazing" is better.

Never Say Die is a two-disc CD/DVD set recorded during a Waylon Jennings concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. in January 2000. This set will provide hours of entertainment and become a true collector's item in the years to come, if it hasn't already.

Review:

Never Say Die is a CD and DVD set, and this review covers both. After the January 2000 concert 14 songs were released via Sony Music Nashville, and in 2007 Legacy Recordings, a Sony imprint, issued the complete set. They did an outstanding job, no doubt about it. Unlike many live concerts released on CD and DVD, Never Say Die includes everything on both media formats and the audio quality in each is incredible. The 23-song project encompasses two CDs and a full length concert DVD complete with an in-depth, behind-the-scenes documentary on how the concert came to be.

At the time of the performance, Jennings' health was deteriorating (he passed away in 2002). He'd given up the touring lifestyle that was such a huge part of his life for years, doing a few shows here and there instead. His original band, The Waylors, had since morphed into a band that included horns and fiddle, renamed The Waymore Blues Band, which gives an absolutely phenomenal performance.

In typical Jennings fashion, he addresses the fact that he can't move around and has to be seated on stage throughout the show. One of his comments is, "I can still kick ass - you just have to bring 'em up here." Seated or standing, Jennings still had the ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hand.

His unique vocals and playing style is something that many have tried to duplicate, but no one has ever come close.

Songs:

Several songs in this 90 minute show include new arrangements and previously unreleased material. Special guests John Anderson, Travis Tritt and then-up-and-coming duo Montgomery Gentry share the stage with Jennings in a few songs, including "Waymore's Blues," "I've Always Been Crazy" and "(I'm A) Ramblin' Man," respectively. Special guest Jessi Colter, Jennings' wife, lends her voice in "Love's the Only Chain," "I'm Not Lisa," "Storms Never Last" and "Suspicious Minds." A poignant moment during the show is seeing Jennings watch Colter as she plays the piano. His expression is one of pure love.

One of my favorite songs both on the CD and the DVD performance is "It's the World's Gone Crazy (Cotillion)." The arrangement is just plain fun to listen to. It sounds like an old time Cotillion dance with a Western twang. Since Willie Nelson wasn't present to do his part, Jennings pinches his nose for that signature Nelson nasal effect, and he also does a dead-on impression of Nelson's part in "Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," including a little verbal rearrangement.

The DVD is easily one of the best concert videos I've had the pleasure of watching in a long time. The sound remains even throughout instead of going in and out between the music and chit chat. It captures the magic of the show and the interactions between the band. The respect that guests John Anderson, Montgomery Gentry and Travis Tritt have for Jennings is obvious, and the love that Jennings shared with Jessi Colter is apparent throughout her performance.

Aside from that, the DVD offers is an entire Waylon Jennings concert in the comfort of your living room. After you've enjoyed the show, you can watch the in-depth documentary on the making of the show. There are a few appearances by like the likes of Chet Atkins, Billy Walker, Ralph Emery, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare and others who have worked with Jennings over the years.

They talk about Jennings and what he means to them personally, as well as what he's contributed to music.

Final Thoughts:

This is a top of the line musical treat. If you are a fan of Waylon Jennings or country music in general, you can't go wrong by adding this incredible recording to your collection.

Track List:

  1. Never Say Die
  2. Medley: Good Hearted Woman / Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
  3. Trouble Man
  4. Amanda / A Couple More Years
  5. Waymore's Blues (feat. John Anderson)
  6. It's the World's Gone Crazy (Cotillion)
  7. Love's the Only Chain (feat. Jessie Colter)
  8. I'm Not Lisa (feat. Jessie Colter)
  9. Storms Never Last (feat. Jessie Colter)
  10. Suspicious Minds (feat. Jessie Colter)
  11. Closing In On the Fire
  12. (I'm A) Ramblin' Man (feat. Montgomery Gentry)
  13. Help Me Make It Through the Night
  14. Havin' a Good Time
  15. Shakin' the Blues
  16. Nothing Catches Jesus By Surprise
  17. Never Been to Spain
  18. Drift Away
  19. I've Always Been Crazy (feat. Travis Tritt)
  20. Goin' Down Rockin'
  21. The Weight
  22. Can't You See

Purchase Never Say Die: The Complete Final Concert (Live) on Amazon