The Epic Collection/Chill Factor/5:01 Blues

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
BGO's 2013 three-fer combines three late-'80s albums from Merle Haggard: 1983's The Epic Collection (Recorded Live), 1987's acclaimed Chill Factor, and 1989's 5:01 Blues. The first of these is a confusingly titled live album from early in his run on Epic. The title Epic Collection suggests it's a collection of hits from those years but it came out in 1983, just two years into his stint on the label, so it draws very heavily from his Capitol prime. This doesn't necessarily mean it's weighed down with hits. "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers," "Sing a Sad Song," and "Workin' Man Blues" all make appearances but Hag finds time for the delicate "Holding Things ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
BGO's 2013 three-fer combines three late-'80s albums from Merle Haggard: 1983's The Epic Collection (Recorded Live), 1987's acclaimed Chill Factor, and 1989's 5:01 Blues. The first of these is a confusingly titled live album from early in his run on Epic. The title Epic Collection suggests it's a collection of hits from those years but it came out in 1983, just two years into his stint on the label, so it draws very heavily from his Capitol prime. This doesn't necessarily mean it's weighed down with hits. "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers," "Sing a Sad Song," and "Workin' Man Blues" all make appearances but Hag finds time for the delicate "Holding Things Together," as well as Jimmie Rodgers ("Blue Yodel No. 2") and Bob Wills ("Trouble in Mind") covers. The atmosphere is mellow, with Haggard favoring late-night ballads -- both broken-hearted and romantic -- and adopting a nicely weathered saloon crooner stance. This doesn't make for the liveliest record but it's a nice, unassuming portrait of a master at middle age playing his way through just another date. Four years later came Chill Factor, which happened to be his last Top 10 country album. Compared to Kern River, Chill Factor is streamlined, constructed primarily of originals and given a clean, gleaming production designed with the radio in mind. In the case of the sweetly swinging "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star," it took him all the way to the top of the charts -- the last time he'd achieve such a peak in his long career -- and it's a deserving final number one hit, bearing enough of a trace of Western swing to be of a piece with his classic hits, yet given an unmistakably modern spin. All of Chill Factor has this serene, clean production -- even when the tempo starts to kick upward, things stay reserved (in the case of "You Babe," it threatens to mummify the performance, but this is a one-time stumble) -- and while this sound dates the album somewhat, it's also easy to hear beyond it, to recognize that this is one of Haggard's strongest collection of songs of the '80s, a record where he remains a peerless craftsman and has yet to succumb completely to the streak of bitter nostalgia that sometimes tainted his records of the '90s. Here, he's clear-eyed and perceptive, sometimes pining for the past, but decidedly alive in the present. 5:01 Blues was the last album Haggard released on Epic and it's fairly clear things are beginning to wrap up between the singer and the label. He's not being teamed with a big producer as he was at first; he's on his own, working with Mark Yeary and Ken Suesov, just relaxing through a set of laid-back ballads and blues. Perhaps the settings are a shade too clean and slick for Hag's warm croon but it's an amiable, enjoyable set, highlighted by Richie McDonald's "Losin' in Las Vegas," the title track, and the singles "A Better Love Next Time" and "If You Want to Be My Woman."
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/9/2013
  • Label: Bgo - Beat Goes On
  • EAN: 5017261211149
  • Catalog Number: 6121114
  • Sales rank: 48,514

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Merle Haggard Primary Artist, Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals
Tiny Moore Fiddle, Mandolin
Steve Gibson Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Bobby Wood Synthesizer, Electric Guitar, Background Vocals
Biff Adam Drums
Jimmy Belkin Steel Guitar
Susan Boyd Background Vocals
Jerry Carrigan Percussion
Joe Chamay Background Vocals
Gene Chrisman Drums
Johnny Christopher Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocals
Gary Church Trombone, Cornet
Jim Haas Background Vocals
Norm Hamlet Dobro, Steel Guitar
Mike Leech Piano, Hammond B3
Don Markham Trumpet, Horn, Saxophone
Roy Nichols Guitar, Harmonica
Bonnie Owens Background Vocals
Tom Roady Percussion
Eldon Shamblin Electric Guitar
Billy Shaw Electric Guitar
Clint Strong Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Mark Yeary Piano, Hammond Organ
Reggie Young Electric Guitar
Dennis Hromek Bass
Bobby Wayne Acoustic Guitar
Jon Joice Background Vocals
Josh Abbott Overdubs
Jimmy Belken Fiddle, Strings
Norman Hamler Steel Guitar
Technical Credits
Merle Haggard Composer, Producer
Paul Hampton Composer
Jerry Carrigan drum programming
Hank Cochran Composer
John Nowland Engineer
Denny Purcell Mastering
Ken Suesov Producer, Engineer
Mark Yeary Producer
Bill Johnson Art Direction
Melodie Gimple Sleeve Photo
John O'Regan Liner Notes
Josh Abbott Remixing
Christopher Wood Composer
Andrew Thompson Remastering
Schafer Composer
Celia Lord Engineer
Asa Kelly Engineer
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