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Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard/Ray Price 

Last of the Breed (Lost Highway)

Fans of these three country legends -- as well as western-swing junkies -- will find little to quibble with here. Nelson, Haggard, and Price offer flawless renditions of chestnuts penned by Lefty Frizzell, Harland Howard, Hank Williams, and others. Meanwhile, sideman hotshots like pedal-steel whiz Buddy Emmons and fiddler Johnny Gimble only add to the authenticity.

Lost Highway has released a country record that concedes absolutely nothing to the present day -- and who can argue with that? New country is by and large pretty awful, while on the other hand, kids aping old sounds always feels hokey as shit. The only problem here is with the actual legends, especially poor Ray Price; they sound old -- like Parkinson's old. Also, some of the tunes are sung from the point of view of a horny young honky-tonker, which is creepifying. Hearing gramps sing about "hot chicks" is like watching a 700-year-old Sean Connery chase down Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment. But when the trio hits stuff like "Lost Highway" and "Why Me," it all works.

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