This week on the music beat
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BIG WILLIE’S STYLES Get ready for Willie Nelson to trade in those ponytails for dreadlocks: Although the mystic cowboy is landing rave reviews for his Daniel Lanois-produced Teatro album, he plans to put out two more platters whenever the smoke clears. ”There’s a reggae album in the can and a blues album in the can,” Nelson says. ”So one of those will be next.” A while back, the Kennedy Center honoree whipped up the Rasta-man vibrations with producer Don Was in Jamaica, then fired up original tunes and chestnuts like ”Kansas City” and ”The Thrill Is Gone” with an A team of Texas blues-meisters in Austin. Nelson says the executive shuffle at Island Records — founder Chris Blackwell left in 1997 — and the prospect of cutting Teatro wound up putting the other stuff on hold. ”Lanois came along and it was an opportunity,” Nelson explains. ”So the reggae and the blues had to wait.” Not in vain, we hope. — Jeff Gordinier

FALLEN FROM THE TREE Got a copy of U2’s 1987 classic The Joshua Tree? It turns out you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, if what you’re looking for is the complete album. Believe it or not, your copy is actually one song short: Would-be Tree track ”Sweetest Thing” was ditched at the last minute because the band just couldn’t finish it in time. But more than 10 years later, Bono and the boys have rescued ”Thing” from obscurity (a rough, unfinished version did appear briefly as a B side), revamping it for a greatest-hits collection due out Nov. 3. ”They were really excited,” says longtime U2 producer Steve Lillywhite, who spent five days in the studio with the band rerecording vocal and guitar parts. ”Me and them getting together brought everyone back to the early days.” The resulting return to their roots is a sweet thing, indeed: a sunny, familiar-sounding pop song. ”It’s U2 how we all love them,” says Lillywhite. ”It has that sort of ’80s charm to it, and we didn’t want to take too much away from what it was.”

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