Tracy Nelson | Live From Cell Block D

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Blues: Rhythm & Blues Blues: Classic Female Blues Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Live From Cell Block D

by Tracy Nelson

She's the legendary vocalist who fronted Mother Earth and brought a hard country sensibility to rock and blues. This is a live album recorded before, quite literally, a captive audience of male and female inmates at the West Tennessee Detention Center.
Genre: Blues: Rhythm & Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. I Need All The Help I Can Get
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4:31 album only
2. Walkin' After Midnight
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3:22 album only
3. God Will
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3:40 album only
4. Got A New Truck
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2:56 album only
5. Tennessee Blues
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4:04 album only
6. Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair
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4:50 album only
7. After The Fire Is Gone
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3:07 album only
8. Mother Earth
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8:50 album only
9. Strongest Weakness
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3:27 album only
10. Down So Low
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5:28 album only
11. Feel So Good
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5:39 album only


Album Notes
by Willie Nelson, with love

When Tracy first moved to Nashville in the '70's, I was living there in Ridgetop. She had "borrowed" a couple of the musicians I was working with at the time. I kind of knew she was around but I hadn't run into her but I certainly loved her work with Mother Earth. It would only a matter of time before we'd get together.

We were both on Atlantic Records that has just started a Nashville operation at the time. Apparently Tracy and Bob Johnson, our producer in common, had decided to cut "There's Nothing Cold As Ashes After the Fire Is Gone" that was one of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn's big duet hits. Tracy had done the track as a solo but then it was decided to try it as a duet.

She and Bob went out to my place and we talked about doing the song together and I thought it might be fun to give it a try. We cut it after that and Linda Ronstadt sang harmony on the track, too. The b-side was one of mine, "Whiskey River," re-cut as a duet. The record tuned out to be a pretty big success for us and we even got a Grammy nomination for it.

After the record broke, Tracy joined us for a number of festival dates that included Waylon and David Allen Coe. Needless to say, good times were had by all. I didn't give it much thought at the time but, because we're both named 'Nelson," people thought we were related. Some thought we were married, some thought we were brother and sister and a lot of DJs said we were a father and daughter act like The Kendalls. When we were on Ralph Emery's WSM show together we had fun with it and told him that we were both the illegitimate children of Ozzie and Harriet.

Over the years, Tracy and I have seen each other many times and I was so happy she was able to help out and perform at a few of our Farm Aid shows. This album is in the great jailhouse album tradition of Johnny Cash and B.B. King. There's something about prison audiences that brings out the best in performers and Tracy came though for the inmates here with flying colors. She really sang her heart out for them on this set, highlighting that tremendous voice that has only gotten better over the years.

Tracy's a real original and, over the years, has become something of a vocal icon.

I'm proud to know her, to have worked with her and to think of her as my sister/wife and/or daughter.

Austin, TX - May, 2003


to write a review

Gregory Callahan

Rockin' the Jail House. It'd Be A Crime to Miss Out On This CD.
Tracy Nelson fans have been eagerly awaiting an official 'live' release. As good as many of her 21 previously released studio albums are, nothing compares to Tracy Nelson in concert. She is probably the most dynamic and powerful singer I have ever heard on stage. It's almost seems that the best studio facilities cannot do this astonishingly powerful singer justice. Several of Tracy's classic songs are included here, including a new take on her signature song "Down So Low." First recorded almost 40 years ago, when Tracy was in her early 20s, it proved then to be an almost towering achievement for someone so young.
This release is the work of a mature artist, one still very much in control of her instrument, but also whose artistry and vision has only deepened over the years. When she tackles the song now, it seems to well up from an even deeper place. Nelson is in full command of her powers, she sings every song on this record with conviction and authority. She revisits several numbers from her extensive catalog, all to good effect. Particularly impressive is her take on Memphis Slim's blues classic "Mother Earth"--which, like "Down So Low," she first recorded in 1968. It's still a shattering number, even more so than it was back in the day. Tracy includes a number of her patented R&B shouters in the set, such as the opener, "Need All the Help I Can Get," "Strongest Weakness," and "I Feel So Good," but just as remarkable are the stirring ballads such as "Tennessee Blues," and Lyle Lovett's "God's Will" --and then there's her remarkable take on the Patsy Cline C&W classic "Walkin' After Midnight." Tracy has assembled a crackerjack band for this recording. She does not always work with a horn section, but this record makes you wish she did. The horns give her that extra oomph and send her already soaring vocals into the stratosphere. And she has found a great setting and a more than enthusiastic audience in that Tennessee prison. This is an audience starved for music, and even if they had no idea who Tracy was beforehand, they respond eagerly and gratefully to what they soon realize is a truly first rate performance.