A quartet of early 80s albums from Waylon Jennings – brought together here in a single set! First up is It's Only Rock & Roll – a set that still has Waylon working with a really great ear for the best sort of songwriters on the scene, and throwing in a few of his own gems too! The "rock & roll" in the title is somewhat apt – as Jennings is picking up a few influences from the world of country rock – but the record is hardly a nod at that crossover scene, as there's no denying that individuality that Jennings cultivated over the years – maybe heard best on a reprise of a few older classics on the set. The record not only features a remake of "Mental Revenge", but also includes a "Medley Of Hits" from earlier years that comes off surprisingly well – plus the cuts "Living Legends", "Breaking Down", "Lucille", "Love's Legalities", "No Middle Ground", and "Let Her Do The Walking". On Never Could Toe The Mark, Waylon Jennings still has a way with a pen – and does a really great job of contributing the sort of original material that made some of his 70s records such classics – including a fair bit of tracks that embrace the outlaw spirit of the album's title! Production is nicely understated at times – not as country rock as some of his contemporaries, with maybe a bit of a muted quality on some of the vocals – which we can appreciate, Waylon is at his best when he's not pushing himself too hard. Titles include "People In Texas", "Never Could Toe The Mark", "Whatever Gets You Through The Night", "Where Would I Be", "Sparkling Brown Eyes", "The Gemini Song", and "Talk Good Boogie". On Turn The Page, the title track's a reference to the album's take on a Bob Seger song – one that Waylon Jennings maybe does better than the Detroit poet himself – but the album's filled with the kind of well-crafted country work that Jennings had been giving the mainstream world of country since his classic albums of the 70s! As with some of his contemporaries, age has maybe softened his spirit a bit – but also opened up an emotional complexity that Jennings never had at the start – still that magnificent voice, tuned well on tracks that include "The Devil's On The Loose", "You Showed Me Somethin About Lovin", "Don't Bring It Around Anymore", "As Far As The Eye Can See", "Drinkin & Dreamin", "Those Kind Of Memories", and "Turn The Page". On Sweet Mother Texas, Johnny Cash makes a guest appearance – maybe no surprise, given that he and Waylon Jennings were part of the Highwaymen supergroup at the time – but the album's still pure Waylon all the way through, even when he's taking on a tune by Bruce Springsteen
, "I'm On Fire" – which he does surprisingly well! Other cuts include the great original by Jennings, "Me & Them Brothers" – plus "Hanging On", "Living Legend", "Sweet Mother Texas", "I Take My Comfort In You", and "Be Careful Who You Love".