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Excellent value - the very best of Merle Haggard's 1962 - 1978 recordings.
on 10 October 2007
This 2-disc Merle Haggard collection comprises 3 of the 10 sides initially released by the small independent Tally label, and 45 US Capitol recordings from the period 1965 to 1977/8.
These Tally sides became his first 3 Billboard country chart hits: 'Sing A Sad Song' reached no. 19 in early 1964; 'Just Between The Two Of Us', with Bonnie Owens, reached no. 28; and '(All My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers' went to no. 10.
Disc 1 contains 24 of Merle's Billboard country no. 1 hits on Capitol, whilst Disc 2 has the 3 Tally hits, 13 further Capitol top twenty hits, 2 'A' sides that didn't chart, 4 'B' sides (including 'Sidewalks Of Chicago' and 'Silver Wings'), and a couple of album tracks - Tommy Collins' 'High On A Hilltop', and 'I'll Leave The Bottle At The Bar' (which were not released on singles, as far as I am aware).
Most of Merle's best and best-known songs are here, of which he composed 30 or so - the songs that made him a major country music star in the '60s.
Yep, and not bad at that: pretty much the 'very best of' from the years 1962 to 1978, before he moved on to MCA and later Epic. The only really well-known song from that time that is curiously missing seems to be 'Today I Started Loving You Again', originally the 'B' side of 'The Legend Of Bonnie And Clyde' from 1968 - which is included here .
That one is available on various other compilations, however, including last years 'Hag - The Best Of Merle Haggard'. If you bought that one, though, you will already have 15 of these 48 tracks.
Still, this really is an excellent collection, and even if you do have 'Hag..' - as I do, it's well worth the modest price.
A useful 12-page booklet is included containing a brief overview of Merle's long career, and the song composer credits.