No Offense

Willie Nelson and the Offenders' (almost) new album is all about old musician friends having a chance to "get together and have a good time and play music, because that's what he's all about anyway," or so says Waylon Jennings, talking about Nelson's legendary Fourth of July picnics on one of this CD's enhanced interactive segments. As it turns out, his comments perfectly fit the relaxed nature of Me and the Drummer.

Previously available only over the Internet (as Tales Out of Luck), this 13-song album is remarkably on-target as both a content-rich, interactive document and just a damn fine piece of music.

The title tune suits outlaw Nelson to a T, even though it's the only one here he didn't write (that credit goes to Bill McDavid). "Never given a choice, I had to march to that drummer in me," Nelson sings.

"Home Motel" (RealAudio excerpt), the world-weary second track, sums up the album's mood. Nelson's alternately twangy and jazzy guitar plays off of Floyd Domino's late-night piano as Johnny Gimble's fiddle and Jimmy Day's steel guitar weep softly. The song might as well be subtitled "Travelodge on My Mind."

Nelson's melancholy peaks on "There's No Tomorrow in Sight" (RealAudio excerpt) before he coasts home on such beautifully rendered numbers as "I'm So Ashamed" and "I Guess I've Come To Live in Your Eyes."