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Kickin' Out the Footlights...Again
     

Kickin' Out the Footlights...Again

by Merle Haggard
 
A quarter century has passed since Merle Haggard and George Jones last cut an album together, but on their reunion project they slip into each other's rhythms and mind-sets with an ease that illustrates the kinship between Possum's Texas-style honky-tonk and Merle's Bakersfield sound. The loose concept here is each artist covering the other's tunes -- so you get Merle

Overview

A quarter century has passed since Merle Haggard and George Jones last cut an album together, but on their reunion project they slip into each other's rhythms and mind-sets with an ease that illustrates the kinship between Possum's Texas-style honky-tonk and Merle's Bakersfield sound. The loose concept here is each artist covering the other's tunes -- so you get Merle offering up a smooth, gentle shuffle treatment of Jones's devastating study in ironic heartbreak, "She Thinks I Still Care," and Jones rendering Hag's devastating final testament from a death row inmate, "Sing Me Back Home," with a piercing, hymn-like solemnity that heightens the horror of the moment without resorting to melodrama. Hag returns the favor with some subdued crooning on Jones's wrenching account of a marriage on the rocks, "The Window Up Above," and Possum checks in on Hag's own reaction to being betrayed by a woman, "All My Friends Are Strangers," its sprightly, honky-tonk arrangement and cool vocal forming a stark contrast to the muted rage the lyrics suggest. Naturally these two have a good time paying homage to a country music staple, the drinkin' song -- with a sly wink of a vocal, Jones works his way through "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink," and the two artists join voices on a delightful, semi-autobiographical western swing workout, "Sick, Sober & Sorry," an up-tempo winner further graced by an exuberant piano solo from another venerable country artist, Hargus "Pig" Robbins. A nice closing touch comes by way of the lilting, Bob Wills-style pop shuffle arrangement of Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," its warm vocals supported by some engaging mid-song banter between two old pros musing on the follies of yore. May they cross paths again, and soon.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Twenty five years after their first duet album, A Taste of Yesterday's Wine, George Jones and Merle Haggard teamed up again for 2006's Kickin' Out the Footlights...Again. This time around, Merle and George each sing five songs originally recorded by the other, then team up for four full-fledged duets, including the title track, which chronicles the tales of an aging country singer, a song clearly intended to appear somewhat autobiographical for these two legends. It's not the only time that their advanced age is addressed on the album; indeed, the closing rendition of Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" plays with their senior citizenship (it also plays with their legends, too, with George playfully reviving his duck voice for a fleeting moment too). It makes sense to address their age head-on: at the time of recording, Hag was a year shy of 70 and George was 75, and they no longer sound like spring chickens. Of the two, George sounds a bit worse for wear -- his voice is a little thin and slightly scratchy -- but even if their age is evident on Kickin' Out the Footlights...Again, the album also illustrates exactly why Jones and Haggard are two of the greatest vocalists in country music history. They may cover each other's songs here, but they by no means replicate the other's performances. In George's hands, "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" becomes bouncy and defiant, while Merle brings out the weary humor in "Things Have Gone to Pieces," and when they're tackling such iconic hits as "The Race Is On" or "All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers," they do so with gusto. Like on A Taste of Yesterday's Wine, the duets are more respectful than dynamic, but there is a dose of spirited good humor to their reading of the Western swing classic "Sick, Sober & Sorry" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" that is impossible not to find charming. And "charming" pretty much summarizes Kickin' Out the Footlights...Again -- it may not be a late career masterwork, the way that Hag's If I Could Only Fly was (or the way Jerry Lee Lewis' Last Man Standing, released a month prior to this, was), but it's hard not to be charmed by two old masters who still retain much of their magic after all these years.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/24/2006
Label:
Bandit Records
UPC:
0015707981620
catalogNumber:
79816
Rank:
5061

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Merle Haggard   Primary Artist,Guitar
Rhonda Vincent   Background Vocals
John Wesley Ryles   Background Vocals
Eddie Bayers   Drums
Stuart Duncan   Fiddle,Mandolin
Larry Franklin   Fiddle
Paul Franklin   Steel Guitar
Norm Hamlet   Pedal Steel Guitar
Scott Joss   Guitar
Liana Manis   Background Vocals
Brent Mason   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Bruce Watkins   Acoustic Guitar
Kevin Williams   Bass
Glenn Worf   Bass
Norman Stevens   Guitar
Doug Colosio   Piano
Marty Slayton   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Merle Haggard   Composer,Producer
Buck Owens   Composer
Leon Payne   Composer
Lou Bradley   Producer,Engineer
John Kelton   Engineer
Keith Stegall   Producer
E. Howard Anderson   Composer
Matt Rovey   Engineer
Susan Nadler   Executive Producer
Evelyn Shriver   Executive Producer

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