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Heroes
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Bobby Terry (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Buddy Cannon (acoustic guitar, background vocals); Lukas Nelson (electric guitar); Mike Johnson (steel guitar); Mickey Raphael (harmonica); Jim "Moose" Brown (piano, Hammond b-3 organ, Wurlitzer organ); Paul Shaffer (Hammond b-3 organ); Butch Carr (synthesizer); Steve Brewster, Tony Creasman (drums); Lance Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Melonie Cannon (background vocals).
  • Audio Mixer: Butch Carr.
  • Recording information: Big Gassed Studios; Blackbird Studios, Nashville, TN; Brewbeat Studio, Nashville, TN; Cannon Productions; DSR, Hollywood, CA; Eastwood Studios; Henson Studios, Hollywood, CA; Hicksville Studio; Merle Haggard's Talley Studio, Palo Cedro, CA; Ocean Way Hollywood; Pedernales Recording Studios, Austin, TX; Sound Emporium Recording Studios, Nashville, TN; The Moose Lodge; Vibe 56 Recording Studio.
  • Photographers: David McClister; Frank Harkins.
  • Returning to the Columbia/Sony family after nearly two decades away, Willie Nelson once again tries to be everything to everybody on 2012's Heroes, an appealingly misshapen collection of classics, contemporaries, and originals. Heroes -- its title signifying no great concept -- is roughly divided into quarters, with part of the album devoted to the Western swing and Texas country he's always loved to sing, part consisting of new songs from Willie, part originals from his son Lukas, and part covers of newer, rock-oriented tunes from the likes of Tom Waits, Eddie Vedder, and Chris Martin. Each of these categories is a bit hit-or-miss, either succumbing to cutesy novelty (the dope-smoking anthem "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," complete with country cadences from a non-rapping Snoop Dogg) or laziness, and there's a wee bit too much Lukas Nelson scattered throughout the record, with the son of the father singing on no less than nine of the album's 14 songs. This can be too much of a strong spice, obscuring the overall flavor of the music, but Lukas contributes a couple of the record's best songs in "Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her" and "The Sound of Your Memory," songs that fit well next to a quite beautiful version of Vedder's "Just Breathe" and yet another strong, swinging rendition of "My Window Faces the South." And so Heroes kind of winds up summarizing all that's good and bad about Willie as he approaches his 80th birthday: he's open to everything but has no innate editor, so he whiffs as often as he connects, but when he does connect, it's a wonder to behold...and somehow he can still surprise whenever he sings those old songs. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Professional Reviews
Entertainment Weekly (p.73) - "He pays tribute to Coldplay with a wrenching solo version of 'The Scientist' and honors country outlaw Billy Joe Shaver with the sad, lovely 'Hero.'"

Q (Magazine) (p.107) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[H]e has fun with Snoop Dogg and Kris Kristofferson...as well a putting a suitably poignant spin on Pearl Jam's 'Just Breathe' and Coldplay's 'The Scientist'..."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.94) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[F]or Texas's favourite ex-outlaw, this outing is just another day at the rance as he moves effortlessly from pop-country balladry to well-heated Western Swing."

Uncut (magazine) (p.70) - "HEROES may be elegiac, but it's as spirited as it is poignant."
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