Waylon Jennings and the .357s, Waylon Forever (Vagrant)
With his final works, the American Recordings series, Johnny Cash had some of his biggest commercial and critical success, setting the bar ridiculously high for departed country singers. On Waylon Forever, which is billed as the country outlaw's final record, Jennings doesn't come close to Cash — although the record does have a few great moments in its eight songs. Jennings, who died in 2002, recorded the album with his son Shooter, who rehashed favorites like "Ain't Living Long Like This" and Cream's "White Room" using his father's distinctive voice and his own backing band, the .357s, in a pool-house studio. A gravelly adaptation of "Jack of Diamonds" kicks things off, and the ominous ballad "Outlaw Shit," accentuated with feedback and a forlorn pedal steel, really sets the tone for the album. The track's been released before, but this version is the definitive one, produced perfectly and with potent vocals. The other reason to listen is "I Found the Body," an unreleased Jennings tune that has a Neil Young and Crazy Horse vibe, complete with spacy guitars and haunting lyrics. Though WaylonForever isn't the kind of sendoff that'll do much to enhance Jennings' legacy, it certainly won't do anything to tarnish it.