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Kultur presents
The Highwaymen: On the Road Again (1992)

"if you ever get the blues, this little shoeshine boy told me one time: get rhythm."
- Johnny Cash

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: November 06, 2003

Stars: Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash
Other Stars: June Carter Cash, Jessi Colter
Director: Ken O'Neill

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:59m:40s
Release Date: July 15, 2003
UPC: 032031166295
Genre: country

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+C-C+ D

DVD Review

As a marketing ploy in the 1970s the Outlaws was born, with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and other country mavericks like Johnny Paycheck and David Allan Coe representing a rebellion against the norm in country music. Remarkably successful, it is difficult to determine if the rise of the Outlaws was a last gasp of real country music before the birth of the corporate "clear channel" country of Garth Brooks, Ricky Skaggs, and Alan Jackson that is now so overwhelmingly popular on radio in the US. The dominant forms of country music today seem to emphasize big hats and tight jeans over the individuality of "classic" country. One could not imagine a bigger group of individuals than The Highwaymen, which features Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.

"I'm sort of an impulsive type person, I guess, and I say what I think and I think a lot of crazy things." - Willie Nelson

The Highwaymen is certainly another marketing ploy in the tradition of the Outlaws, but still there is something compelling about seeing a hillbilly super group of aging cowboy singers with true credentials in their craft on many levels. Each boasts a rich catalog with both songs they have written and songs they have covered that represent some of the most popular country music every released. Backed by an incredible country band (whose names, astonishingly, do not show up in the credits) and sharing the stage as equals, these legends provide an entertaining and amusing hour of music.

"I intend to keep doing it as long as God gives me breath to breathe and I can walk on stage, I'll be out there." - Johnny Cash (1932 - 2003)

The songs in The Highway Men: On the Road Again come from a performance filmed in Scotland at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Center. The songs are interspersed with interviews sequences and outside shots of stars and fans. Some interview material is dubbed over songs (why do they do that?), but there isn't anything said that justifies marring such moments as the excellent harmonica intro to Me and Bobby McGee.

The program kicks off with each member taking a turn on a potent Highwayman, which serves as a kind of introductory theme song. Waylon and Willie take center stage for Good Hearted Woman, which was a big hit for them. Waylon then tosses off what is probably his most famous song, if not his best, in Theme from "The Dukes of Hazard". Johnny Cash steps up to the mike with a bonafide classic in Folsom Prison Blues and demonstrates a commanding presence. It seems safe to say that he enjoys fitting into this group and avoids dominating the stage. Nice arrangement of Help Me Make It Through the Night allows Kristopherson to sing comfortably. Nice guitar work by Nelson on Loving Her Was Easier and then Waylon and Willie are back at center stage for one of their most famous duets, Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys. Waylon follows with one of his signature songs, Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way?

"I've always written just what I feel and I think. That's why I've done as well as I've done." - Kris Kristofferson

Then Willie is back on an incredible Always on My Mind that is a highlight. Kris essays his signature tune Me and Bobby McGee in a jaunty fashion, accompanied by marvelous harmonica by Mickey Hart, and Waylon takes a verse to great effect. Johnny raises the energy level with a compelling Get Rhythm. Willie Then reaches back into his catalog for a bonafide country classic, Crazy, and then the group joins in for a rollicking (Ghost) Riders in the Sky. Waylon leads the group through a brisk and good-humored Luckenback, Texas. Willie dominates again with a stunning solo on Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground and then everybody trades lines in a fun version of Johnny Cash's Big River. Everything is wrapped up in a romp through Nelson's On the Road Again.

I'll know when to stop. Y'know, I've thought about quitting a couple of times. But all it takes is to get out there one more time and hear people applaud and that's a big part of it too. Waylon Jennings (1937 - 2002)

The song list:
Good Hearted Woman
Theme from "The Dukes of Hazard"
Folsom Prison Blues
Help Me Make It Through the Night
Loving Her Was Easier
Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way?
Always on My Mind
Me and Bobby McGee
Get Rhythm
(Ghost) Riders in the Sky
Luckenback, Texas
Angel Flying to Close to the Ground
Big River
On the Road Again

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The video transfer is pretty darn grainy and the original concert lighting was awful as well. This mixture makes for a taxing viewing experience. Who kept turning on those awful violet-colored lights? This one has television/video written all over and doesn't look like much could be done to salvage it.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The sound is quite good and this is fortunate, because without it, this disc would be worthless. The stereo presentation has little hiss and can accept being turned up pretty loud without distortion. Good job, especially if the source sound was as bad as the video.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 19 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras and that is just too bad.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Good-humored and very enjoyable, The Highway Men: On the Road Again deserves a place on any country fan's shelf for its presentation of four country greats singing and playing. Definitely listenable even for those who don't usually care for country music.


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