Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Willie Nelson: Red Headed Stranger [Columbia, 1975]
This tale of a murdering preacher wild in his abandonment has inspired much loose talk about violence and Western myth. Ed Ward argues that the Stranger is a fantasy of vengeance rejected on side two, but all I hear is that he's redeemed by another woman there--if she leaves him, he'll kill her too. Some of the individual pieces are quite nice, but the gestalt is the concept album at its most counterproductive--the lyrics render the nostalgic instrumental parts unnecessarily ironic and lose additional charm in narrative context. B-