Willie Nelson, 'Stardust' (Columbia)
At first listen, Stardust, Willie Nelson's spare and jazzy take on the Great American Songbook, might not seem to qualify for the Outlaw Country category at all or, for that matter, even as country music. Then again ... Nelson, who'd been heading in this direction for a few years already, well knew that Marty Robbins, Ferlin Husky, Ray Price and Skeeter Davis, among other country legends, had long since pulled pop standards into the country repertoire. Plus, if not at the time then at least in retrospect, hit versions of "All of Me" and "Blue Skies" come off as pretty spot-on models for early Nelson compositions like "Crazy" and "Night Life." When we keep in mind that the Outlaw revolt was less about sound than it was about artistic control – the ability to record what you wanted and with whom – then the Booker T. Jones-produced Stardust stands as about as outlaw as they come.