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Leon Russell

Legend in My Own Time: Hank Wilson, Vol. 3 – 1998 (Ark 21)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Leon Russell

Even if Leon Russell had not established himself as an acclaimed recording artist, his reputation as a session man would have ensured his status as a legend. While mostly associated with rock music, Russell's country credentials are solid. As in the previous two volumes show-casing his alter-ego Hank Wilson, he serves up reworkings of country classics. Included are three Willie Nelson classics ("Night Life," "Crazy" and "Funny How Time Slips Away"), and Nelson joins Russell on "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "Okie From Muskogee." Other guest vocalists include T. Graham Brown ("Love's Going to Live Here" and the title track), and the Oak Ridge Boys ("Daddy Sang Bass"). Russell's raspy voice is effective, particularly on the ballads, and the arrangements are both fresh and traditional.

A priceless hidden track features Russell and fellow legend Harold Bradley (who served as Russell's production assistant and band leader) reminiscing about glory days of session work with the likes of Elvis and Patsy, as well as insights into the making of this album. Russell's "Hank Wilson's Back" in 1973 exposed his rock fans to country music. This volume will satisfy listeners of today who are hungry for some real country music.